Oh, the poor dog.
He has become rich beyond the dreams of avarice, and it has – I can categorically confirm – made him unhappy.
This is not the first tale of a bone which has been connected, here in these cyberpages, with Macaulay the Dog. But it is a living, whimpering metaphor; a shadow on the creature who has always been such a happy-go-lucky surfer of life’s waves. Possessions, mark my words, do not always make one happy.
On Sunday evening there was a ring on the doorbell and there stood our kindly dog-friendly neighbour. She had with her a lamb bone. It was huge. Enormous. And delighted, we took the bone and introduced the dog to its rancid charms.
Was it naive to expect a twinkle in the eye, a jauntier gait as those paws clattered out into the garden, carrying jaws bearing gifts? Because the dog was not joyful on receipt of this grail. Rather, imagine an old miser who has mined every day for at least 100 years to find a nugget of gold; and at last, when he is far too old to benefit properly from it(Las Vegas, limousines, all-night parties) he happens upon the thing he has always wanted.
And once he holds it in his hand, the fear of losing it is almost overpowering.
Macaulay the family dog chewed long and with sombre seriousness, out there in the garden. And then he took the huge lamb bone and buried it deep,coming back with a prospector’s moustache filled with compost from the chosen hallowed flowerbed.
But once in, he couldn’t settle. He was worried, deeply concerned. He stood at the window and whined because he knew – with a certainty bordering on the obsessive – that some creature out there wanted his bone, and they were going to dig it up and bear it away into some shady netherworld inhabited mainly by foxes and the odd feral cat.
Now, like his precious, he keeps it close to him at all times, except when some horrified human resident of the house finds it being gnawed on a duvet, or possibly with the new carpet as a tablecloth. We find the bone in any number of places, and few of them are the right place for something which should by rights be pushing up the daisies.
Until the lamb bone came into his life, Macaulay did not know that a possession such as this could change things utterly. But he is a different dog, a furtive, fretting thing, in thrall to pieces of the leg of something else.
Maybe we should enrol him in a monastery where he can eschew worldly goods, and remember what it is to stand in just the fur you were born in, and smell the cow dung on the wind.
Or possibly a collective, a kholkoz, where Macaulay’s bone will be shared amongst a small working group of dogs, some of whom are more equal than others.