Should A Dog Have Possessions?

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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? Β 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 withΒ 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.

The horror.



60 thoughts on “Should A Dog Have Possessions?

  1. Poor Mac. At least my Annie cherishes only machine-washable “babies” which are carried outside, to be dutifully retrieved at a later date. But then, she has never received a gift as magnificent as that lamb bone.

  2. Our Ruffy and his tennis balls needs rehab too! as perhaps some of their humans! In the middle of unpacking our moving boxes from the states, I felt you were talking about my earthly worries as much as of you dog’s! Loved it!

    1. To be honest, Solveig, it taught Phil and I a lesson. We live in a very modest three storey end-of-terrace and after watching Macaulay I consider us fortunate indeed.

  3. We have a commercial for a bank that has this story line. It’s about a dog and his bone which he neurotically protects. He moves it from one burial place to another always watching from a window fearful someone will steal it until the day he digs it up and takes it to the bank for safe keeping. It’s really a funny commercial but now I can see the reality!

      1. It’s fabulous, Kate and and Virginia, thank you! Indeed, it could be Mac himself. Though the dog is clean and does not seem to elicit any olfactory discomfort in those nearby.The banker might refuse Mac entrance to his pristine moneyhouse.

  4. Suddenly, a childhood rhyme comes to mind:
    This old man, he played one,
    He played knick-knack on my thumb;
    With a knick-knack paddywhack,
    Give the dog a bone,
    This old man came rolling home . . .
    Don’t know why these things come to me, but, poor old Mac and his boney story made me think of it.
    I’m enjoying the thread of comments almost as much as your story, Kate.

    1. It seems the perfect rhyme for the occasion, Penny πŸ™‚ And the thread? Well, I like to think we have a high class of commented here. And get them going on dogs, and they could talk forever.

      1. Good, thank you. I entered it in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel contest, and it’s currently in the quarter-finals. I have no delusions of advancing further, but all quarter-finalists get a Publishers Weekly review, so I’m thrilled with that. Am working on a third novel now. πŸ™‚

        Hope all is well with you, too!

    1. Quite. Macaulay has forsaken the Have-Nots and become a Have. Though, to be fair, I think he might have lost the bone this evening. There are advantages to being not very bright.

  5. It’s sad, but with a couple of cats hanging about, watching and waiting, I can see why Mac is nervous. One of my dogs buried his dog biscuits under the sofa cushions. Perhaps that would work for Mac.

    1. He does, Gale, and I have never seen him so jealous. The cat got short shrift yesterday evening when he went within sniffing distance of the burial site!

  6. In answer to the question, Maggie has a basket full of toys and rides shotgun in my truck. That makes her “people”.

  7. I remember this from The Grapes of Wrath: “If a man owns a little property, that property is him, it’s part of him, and it’s like him. If he owns property only so he can walk on it and handle it and be sad when it isn’t doing well, and feel fine when the rain falls on it, that property is him, and some way he’s bigger because he owns it. Even if he isn’t successful he’s big with his property. That is so.”
    Substitute dog for man, and I think that about sums it up for poor Macaulay. πŸ™‚

    1. Such an incredibly wise man, Steinbeck. I had totally forgotten that quote, Jackie. You have inspired me to get the book out and start it all over again. Thank you!

  8. Brilliant writing Kate – too funny and too true – poor Macaulay faced with the bones of truth (but I also have sympathy for the poor family who find a dog and a dirty bone in the house – it is not an ideal situation) πŸ˜‰

    1. Gabrielle, it can get distressing. the bone is old and rancid to human noses. However, he loves it so that the thought of sharing it with the household is just too much for him. He sits like a miser in the flowerbed, and does not bring it in in case one of us steals it.

  9. Dear Mac, the joys and sorrows of life are all to be fully experienced. Continue on this path and show the family the richness of the dogs life.

  10. Wonderful metaphor Kate! Indeed we can create our own “prison” by our possessions. The quote “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” … Not sure Mac would agree πŸ˜‰

    1. Hi Hope! I’ve always had a few problems with that quote myself: perhaps Mac and I share a hoarder’s heart. I hope I could drop everything and follow if I were ever asked to. I hope.

      1. I’ve never thought about this quote in the sense of “dropping everything and follow”. I think of it in the sense of what Joy Gresham asked C.S. Lewis in Shadowlands. They are out enjoying their honeymoon during her remission from cancer. She looks at him and asks “Is it worth it?”. He responds “Is what worth it?”. She replies “The joy now is part of the sorrow then, that’s the deal”. I saw this movie when my Father was dying from cancer. My heart immediately lept with “YES, it is worth it!!”. It changed my perspective completely. We have the choice to hide our hearts away and keep them safe, or set them free to love knowing the joy now is part of the sorrow then. May you be blessed with a heart free to love!!

  11. Poor guy – tough to be so wealthy and yet unable to sleep peacefully at night for worrying about his wealth!
    Gwynn spends the first 10 minutes of gaining a new tasty posession running around the house crying, clearly a sign that he understands the grief that comes with acquisition, but is unable to, as Elsa says, ‘let it go’.

  12. I guess we really are all animals at best. Most humans also seem to find it hard to just enjoy the moment and then move on to enjoy another day. And we are fairly good at hoarding. Maybe next time I’m in that frame of mind Mac and his compost-crusted whiskers will come to mind and I’ll do better. I do love that dog, though!

  13. LOL! I think Macauley’s problem is that he’s an only dog. Quest and Storm allow each other zero time for contemplation πŸ˜€

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