11 JANUARY 2003, Page 24

From Mr John Hare Sir: In 1999, while searching for

wild Bac trian camels near the Arjin mountains that border the northern escarpment of Tibet, I was bitten by a Kazakh herdsman's Tibetan mastiff on the calf of my left leg. That evening, the herdsman's wife presented me with some hair which had been carefully cut from the back of the dog. She strongly advised me to apply it to the wound to effect a quick rabies-free cure. I didn't go rabid. This suggests (see Mind your language, 4 January) that 'the hair of the dog' has a universal and literal usage which predates the cure for 17th-century hangovers.

John Hare

Benenden, Kent