This post includes decay and decomposition. It is not for the faint hearted.
Will someone please remind me why I decided on homing a terrier?
7am. And I have already been up an hour. I have dashed out to the forest in search of space for a wild-haired mutt with a lopsided moustache.
He’s unhinged this morning. I have no idea why; maybe it’s the smell of Autumnal decay which hangs in the mist.
I am girded with resolve. Resolution is my breastplate. Because when we get to that part of the forest – why then, I shall put the dog on a lead.
To avoid a repeat of yesterday. And the day before.
Every day for seven years, the dog has padded affably along the path which crosses the top of the iron age hill fort where we walk. Until three days ago. When, I now have irrefutable evidence, something popped its clogs, shuffled off this mortal coil, and expired.
And began, as is the Forest way, gently and in an entirely eco-friendly way, to decompose.
No-one knows this but me and mine, because the deceased in question chose a nice spot covered with ferns which shot up in May and are now a diminutive waist-high thicket.
For the last days the dog has made me late for work, disappearing and reappearing gleefully ten or fifteen minutes later having indulged in a good measure of jolly unspeakableness.
Which is why I am standing determined with a lead, waiting to hitch him up and rein him in from the micro bacteriafest.
But as I walk out of my door I see a red-flag event: that neighbour down my road has let her dog soil my garden. Again. And I’m hopping mad; I’m furious. All the way up to the top of the fort I’m composing pieces of my mind to give her alongside the burgeoning poop bag I intend to return. And I am so distracted eulogising that I fail to spot the dog arcing away, his tail like the fin of a shark in the emerald ferny fronds.
It’s happening again. In slow motion. If I shout and curse he will not come back; who would? But if I stay silent he will not come back either, for he is on Planet Dead Deer.
Briefly I consider wading into the green and looking for him. But the thought of coming on a large deer carcass stays my hung-ho vigilantism. No. There is nothing for it but to sit, grim. like a Tolkiensian dwarf on a Misty Mountain, and wait.
I glower. I emit smouldering fury. But the mist swirling round me is oblivious, and all those industrious spiders with their diamond-drop webs could not care less.
Eventually, the dog re-enters, stage right.
But he is not grinning.
He cannot; for his mouth is full of something.
Oh, peerless treasure of the terrier race: he carries what would in any other dog be a stick, or a ball; a treasured plaything, a toy, a bauble. But in a dog of Macaulay’s calibre this can only be one thing.
It is a bit of deer. Red-haired, hoof intact.
There in the middle of the deserted hilltop, the mist takes a startled step backwards to avoid the screeching woman doing a dance of fury, back and forth, up and down, uttering incantations too blue to write here. We are late; and, the prize wrung from the jaws of the family dog, he walks in textbook fashion at heel all the way home in a bid to get on the right side of this incendiary creature who holds the lead.
No matter, he thinks affably.
I can always pop back and get it next time.