Tristan is due back at school soon, but he needs a check from Siegfried to pay for it. Siegfried wants Tristan to prove that he is responsible and earn it, given his previous failures. Tristan isn’t off to a great start: he spent the evening with Maggie, the bartender, and they fell asleep on the couch until the morning. Mrs. Hall quickly understands the situation and abets Maggie’s escape before Siegfried sees her.
James sets off for Mrs. Pumphrey’s to examine Tricki Woo, who’s struggling to breathe. James easily diagnoses him: he’s overweight. Mrs. Pumphrey thought his listlessness was due to malnutrition and so spoiled him even more. James takes Tricki back to Siegfried’s for a week of exercise and close observation. Along with the dog comes his “essentials”—a hamper full of treats and some pillows.
Siegfried already has his hands full with a dog, Joe Mulligan’s ferocious Clancy. Siegfried prescribes some medicine for Clancy’s vomiting without examining him. When Joe returns later, Siegfried assigns Tristan—who was just lounging—to attend to Clancy. Tristan gives Joe, a veteran who is hard-of-hearing, some high-quality food for Clancy, suspecting the dog’s poor diet is to blame. He, too, is afraid to fully examine the dog.
James heads to the Dobson farm, where Helen’s bull is failing to perform. Helen will lose a source of income if the bull doesn’t take an interest in the Dobson cows. James gives the animal a shot of testosterone to perk him up.
After a filling meal at the Dobsons’, James offers to drive Helen home. He learns that Helen’s boyfriend Hugh is also her landlord, and that they’ve “mucked about” since they were kids. They run into Hugh on a single-lane bridge, stuck there due to a flat tire. James helpfully changes the tire while Hugh enjoys Helen’s company. Afterward, Hugh thanks James for the tire—and, surprisingly, for what he did with Andante, Hugh’s late racehorse.
Back at home, Siegfried sees a parallel between the spoiled Tricki Woo and Tristan, and threatens to withhold Tristan’s check for school. Tristan jumps to prove himself by taking on the care of Tricki.
But Tricki doesn’t want to exercise. Tristan carries the dog to the pub and complains to Maggie about Siegfried’s desire for him to be more responsible. She sides with Siegfried, and Tristan decides to apply himself to Tricki’s health. He ties bread to a string on a stick, and holds it in front of Tricki to get the dog to walk.
Meanwhile, Siegfried is enjoying Tricki’s treats: pate, ham, and other delights. When Mrs. Hall catches him he stows the hamper away in a corner.
That evening, Mrs. Hall makes an elaborate supper—but James and Siegfried are too full to eat much. Luckily, Tristan is ravenous after his long walks with Tricki.
Siegfried suspects Mrs. Hall is trying to distract herself by cooking so much, but she doesn’t want to discuss it. She sent her son Edward a letter and tin of cookies, but it was returned—he’s no longer at that address. Siegfried offers to drive her around to look for him, but she says she’s chased him long enough.
Helen also tries to bake something and give it to James in gratitude when he drops by to inform her that the testosterone shot worked. While she’s fetching the treats, her father accuses James of being a thief until he explains who he is. When he tries Helen’s baked goods, he can’t conceal his displeasure. He joins her, her father, and her sister in a good-natured laugh at her lack of baking talent.
Tristan’s labors have been less successful. Despite the exercise and strict diet, Tricki has somehow gained weight. Siegfried is disappointed; he doesn’t believe Tristan’s claims that he’s working hard, and will withhold the money for college.
Mrs. Pumphrey can’t stand being without Tricki and so visits Siegfried unexpectedly. Mrs. Hall goes to find Tricki and notices the hamper of treats on the ground, surrounded by wrappers. Exasperated, she closes it and puts it on the kitchen table. But where’s Tricki?
James finally discovers the dog in the hamper—Tricki has been enjoying the treats, which explains his weight gain. Now he has eaten some chocolate liqueurs; his stomach needs to be pumped. Siegfried sends Mrs. Pumphrey away, claiming that James is on a long walk with Tricki.
As they work to save Tricki, James blames Tristan for leaving the hamper on the ground and endangering Tricki. It’s usually Tristan’s fault, he says, so he’s the expected culprit. Siegfried is silent. Mrs. Hall gives him a stern look, and he reluctantly admits that he’s at fault. James apologizes to Tristan, who shrugs it off. “Are we hallucinating?” he asks in glee about Siegfried’s admission of guilt.
Siegfried is still debating whether to give Tristan money for school. James encourages him to give his brother a chance. But when the vets return Tricki to Mrs. Pumphrey after a week of exercise—Tristan has earned the title of “uncle” to Tricki—Siegfried sees Mrs. Pumphrey immediately feed Tricki treats, despite their admonitions. He grabs the check he just handed to Tristan and rips it up. Instead of Tristan going back to school, Siegfried will teach his brother himself before he retakes his exams. Tristan is not enthused.
As his first assignment, Siegfried has Tristan examine Clancy, Joe Mulligan’s fearsome dog. Watching Joe nuzzle Clancy as the dog growls fiercely, Tristan realizes that the hard-of-hearing Joe doesn’t notice Clancy’s terrifying growls. Clancy is in truth a sweet dog: his bark is worse than his bite.