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.