The Forest Police Dog

However charged life becomes, you can guarantee that Macaulay the dog will always be a few degrees more unhinged than the rest of us.

But law enforcement means a lot to him. To a terrier, this means patrolling, alarming and remonstrating.

He likes to patrol. This morning I watched the seconds of  precious minutes tick remorselessly by before eight  o’ clock as he oscillated on the forest path behind our house, looking for a suitable place to deposit and go.

He has one of those terrier shuffles: back and forth, interminably, across the same piece of ground, until he has trodden down the ancestral and now non-existent rushes to provide a toilet fit for a terrier king.

The shuffle was brought out at every corner. Each time he began I thought, Oh, great, it’s coming, I can get back home, get in the car and leave. Now.

And each time he would leave the site without event. A lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Poo, goddarnit, dog: poo, I say.

Finally he obliged, and, unseasonably late, I posted the Patroller inside, popped the son in the car and flew off on the wings of a Citroen C8 for the working day.

At 1pm I turned the key in the lock and he tested his Alarming skills.

A racket worthy of the Hound of the Baskervilles on helium set up inside the house. Something dog-shaped was jumping twice its height  behind the glass, hurling itself this way and that in jubilant anticipation.

Long Summer walks are dwindling with the light. The dog is realising wistfully – and possibly without a full measure of acquiescence -that the chilly Winter potters are here to stay. And every inch of the resulting spare energy goes into his policing.

By the middle of the day and the forest was bathed in brilliant sunshine. And as is our wont, I ignored the frantic tugging and discounted the dog’s lack of courtesy, putting it down to desperation.

Letting Macaulay off the lead is something like discharging a firearm, but without the need for a licence. There is so much potential energy bound up in those little doggy muscles, and so far to run. The lead comes off and in ten seconds the dog has become a speck on the horizon.

At these times I make my own way up to the top of the iron age fort which stands behind my house, up a steep wooded track to a flat tabletop which once housed our ancestors in wooden round houses.

Today I heard the sound I least like to hear: a manic charged terrier yapping out a retort to someone, somewhere, out there in the greenery.

Oh, Nuts.Macaulay was remonstrating.

I called Macaulay’s name and within a minute or two he had shot out of the undergrowth with a moustache for mischief.

Like any law enforcer, the dog’s non verbal skills are superlative, and he uses his moustache for self-expression.

If he is disapproving, the moustache is lush and chamberlain-stiff. If he is languid, the moustache twists round in a rakish curl. And his mischievous moustache stands all on end, anticipating I hate to think what.

How can a small shock of  ‘tache say so much, when it’s not even got any nerve endings?

Today we walked round and, once he had got over his barkathon, he settled to exhibiting a joyful moustache: a boyish, playful coiffure tended by burrs and puddles.

It took us three-quarters of an hour to traverse our route, but as we came back down he disappeared and the barking began again.

My heart sank and I called to him,  in what others allege is a Julie Andrews protracted high note which hurts everyone’s ears.

He came, but this time I spied his suspect.

They are the ghosts of the wood, this time of year: the UK has had a wave of Polish people come to work. We love them here: they’re polite, efficient and industrious.

And while they’re here they bring a little known expertise. For they adore wild mushrooms. And that’s one thing which is plentiful in our forest.

Silently and with application, they look in places we would not dream, for delicacies we have never bothered to find and taste: myriad varieties of rainbow colours.

And to Mac,  they were shifty enough to police with that staccato bark.

I put PC Plod on the lead. There is something enchanting about these people, who use something we have never bothered to use, turning straw into culinary gold.

They don’t need the kind of law enforcement the dog has in mind.


42 thoughts on “The Forest Police Dog

  1. Fascinating to read a terrier tale. I’ve always had springer spaniels myself- completely different canine mind-set. Are you not tempted by the odd shaggy parasol, then Kate? Very tasty but you have to be absolutely sure of your identification skills!

    1. I am tempted but I feel sure I’d kill someone, Jan 😀 If I could be sure of getting it right I’d love to try them. Time to engage a little Polish help, perhaps.

      PS: Macaulay is all terrier, but he has a huge dose of spaniel in him. He owes his existence to the union of a schnauzer and a King Charles spaniel!! Picture that if you dare!

  2. I wish I had a forest at the back of my house – my dogs would have been in heaven, to say nothing of my children’s live Enid Blyton experiences! You are so lucky Kate!

    1. We know it, Denise. I’m not sure Mac would have managed without it because once you get in, it’s just space – no boundaries. He can run and run with no limitation. He used to be quite wayward and run in an impossibly large radius around us so we were always fretting about where he was. These days he’s middle aged, and most of the time we can see him.

  3. Mr Pippin (Head of Security and Curator of Socks) would like Macaulay to know that he thoroughly approves of his behaviour. Furthermore he would like everyone to know that it takes time and practice to develop a proper poo-shuffle worthy of a terrier. These things can’t be rushed.

    Miss Mollywobble (Chief Snugglepuppy) would like to say that she thinks that Mr Macaulay has very fine eyebrows and mustachios indeed, and would he like to meet up for a chew some time?

    1. Hi Fi 😀 Thanks for coming over to read of Macaulay’s disreputable exploits! Macaulay is relieved to have the approval and wise sentiments of the Head of Security. One never knows when one might need a sock in times of need. As for Miss Mollywobble, Macaulay informs me he has some rather excellent etchings which might interest her.

  4. I would love to have a forest right behind my house, although here it would mean watching the dog every moment she is outside. Here one may well find coyotes out there, or even an occasional cougar. And currently, with winter coming on, there have been many foraging bears coming into neighborhoods near the forest.

    1. Coyotes and cougars and bears, oh my!
      Our forests are extremely tame by comparison, PiedType. Squirrels and dogs and deer 🙂 Woodland is extremely useful for us dog owners, isn’t it?

  5. What wonderful adventures you have in your forest, Kate, with your gorgeous hound! Quest would be green if I dared to tell him. Poor thing, he’s recovering from his elbow arthroscopies, meaning 6 weeks without excercise. I’m sure Mac would sympathise! As for the mushroom-pickers, they transport me to Finland in mid-summer, where strangely curly, oddly yellow versions are on sale everywhere, along with infinite punnets of wild berries 🙂

  6. That plodding MUST be a terrier thing. My Boston terrier did it, only she would never go while we watched. She would plod and look at us, plod and look at us, and refused to do anything until we diverted our eyes. I swear that dog could talk. Thanks for giving me this memory of her today.

  7. ROFLMHO! I love your sense of humour, that sense of the absurd that runs through so much of your writing here. “Nuts.Macaulay”, “PC Plod” with “a moustache for mischief” – he really does look the part, doesn’t he? (Could use a good bath too, methinks – but don’t tell him I was the one to suggest it!) 😉

    1. Ah, now, baths, there’s an awkward subject. Macaulay boasts sensitive skin and any bath lets him on for a 48-hour scratchathon. Added to which, every time I bath him he goes straight out into the forest to replace what I have just dispelled. It is a thankless task, looking after this particular law enforcer.

  8. What a plethora of “p’s,” Kate! I’m sure that you’ve depleted the reservoir for the rest of us:

    Policing, Patrolling, Pooing, Pooping, Popping, Posting, and even Polish People!

    Finally he obliged, and, unseasonably late, I posted the Patroller inside, popped the son in the car and flew off on the wings of a Citroen C8 for the working day.

  9. I love dogs, I wish my landlords, the 30 off-spring of the ONE rescued pregnant cat would let me have one. But, they just wont have it…But, still agree to let me stay as long as I pay the mortgage, and feed them three meals a day… Great Police tracker Story.

    Speaking of collecting Mushrooms from the woods, do ya’ll have “Chicken of the Woods” there?
    They are tasty, and easy to find around here, though, I haven’t been out hunting them I intend to soon. Well, I say they are easy to find, but, I should say …they are seen everywhere growing on trees when you are out walking through the woods, or working, or whatever you may be doing out there. But, as anything…go hunting them…and you probably NEED a Police Dog…or a Mushroom Hound?
    God Bless You

    1. Paul, we have one cat and she ruled with a rod of iron. hank God they let you stay…never heard of chicken in the woods! I shall begin training the mushroom hound right away 😀

  10. You write so well that I fully participated in your forest walk, could hear that barking and feel his pride! Oh yes

    And about those earthy food stuffs – Did you ever read Bill Bryson’s At Home book in which he chronicles all the foods we used to eat that we would never consider now? Fascinating how we westerners especially have diminished our palettes for the sake of tidy-ness and non-slime and sterility, too. Maybe a good thing…but still we’ve lost something as well.

    1. It sounds as if our Polish friends could make a lot of money out of running mushroom workshops! We are all scared of poisoning each other! We have definitely lost something, Deborah. I agree totally.

  11. The picture is priceless, Kate. I had the day off and took my pup on a long run. She is a rescue dog mutt (poodle/something/something) who is as restless as Mac. I, too, dread the winter setting in and hope for a bit more snow this year so we can snowshoe to burn some of that energy. The doggy doo dance is an odd one, no? Z is trained to be fast in furious in the morn before our jog. I’ve got her bribed with dried mango as reward!

  12. Macaulay, patrolling and exploring! Everyone who loves a dog just has to laugh at the antics connected with doing the morning business. Sort of reminds me of toddler behavior. And I appreciate the glimpse at mushroom foraging! We can learn so much from watching how another culture utilizes resources. I really enjoyed this post! Debra

  13. A wondrous adventure(s) again of Macauley and a reminder of all the wonders a forest has. I’ve never been mushroom picking and wish I had someone at hand to show me what is what. Sigh.

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