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Give the dog a bone

Part 1

The woman who calls herself my owner walks into the shop ready for a fight. She’s always ready to confront, to complain, to cause discomfort to others. She’s not terrible to me, I’m her little sugar plum, muffin, baby boy, prince of dogs etc etc. She calls me by so many things that I am not sure what my name is. And she wonders why I never listen. And I wonder why she gets so mad when I don’t.

       Anyway, here we are, back at the treat store. The BEST place in the world. But not today. She’s returning my favourite bone. I’ve never had anything quite so tasty, and she’s returning it. Suffice to say, I am not happy with her.

         She’s saying things I don’t understand, but I’ll repeat them in case you might.

       “You said this was safe. Look,” my owner is saying, pulling out my bone as she does. My tail wags uncontrollably when I see it. It is so delicious. I go to jump up and grab it but one sharp look down and I stay sitting. I know that look – it means "don’t you dare".

        “The bone split within an hour, look how sharp it is.”

       She is pointing the sharp end in the face of the delightful treat lady. She flinches at the sudden stabbing of a bone in her face.

       Poor lady, I like her. I whimper in solidarity. Her eyes flick down to me, full of affection. I bark a hello, tell her it’s ok, she’s like this with everyone. My owner barks a word back to me. Maybe my name, maybe not – I couldn’t tell you.

    The wonderful shop lady replies, “No chew is without risk madam, these things happen occasionally. I’d be happy to replace it.”

        The lady extends her hand and my owner slaps my bone down into it.

        No! I want that bone! I shuffle in my sitting position, deciding whether to grab it. It’s just so tasty.  The split end is oozing with marrow. Yum!

 

What should the dog do?

[Options

1. Jump up and grab the bone - winning vote

2. Lie down and cry

3. Run around its owner, tying her up with the lead]

Part 2

I just can’t take it anymore, I jump up and pull the bone out of the shop lady’s hand. I am quick but careful not to nip her. I’d never want to hurt the treat lady, I’d be devastated if we couldn’t come back.

      Because that’s what happened before – one accident, a playful nip, and suddenly there’s lots of shouting, yanking on my collar and then we never go back. If humans don’t want me to play with them, they really shouldn’t wave their hands around as they do.

      But, I can’t resist. I know the risks, but it’s worth it. The bone slides out of her hand as I tug, she doesn’t even try to stop me. I miss her hand so she’s not mad. She even makes a weird light barking noise, the happy kind, not the "you are a naughty dog"  kind.

      My owner does bark angrily though as she reaches down to take the bone. I want to eat it, not play with it, but it’s better than nothing. So, I tug back. It’s fun despite the noise she’s making as she tugs. I growl in delight, and she drops the bone. She takes a step back. She seems scared of me.

       My owner starts talking to the shop lady again who is smiling and looking at me. At least she gets it.

           “I don’t know what that is but you need to take it back. He’s obsessed with it and he’s going to hurt himself.”

      The lady replies, her voice so much softer, “It’s nothing special – some dogs just form an attachment to some things. He seems capable of navigating around the sharp edges. If you supervise him, he should be fine.”

       My owner huffs and crosses her arms. It pulls my lead a bit, but it doesn’t interrupt my chewing.

       “You might have the sort of lifestyle in which you can sit all day and watch a dog chew a bone, but I have things to do. Just take it off him and give me a new one.”

       I glance up at the two of them, not taking my teeth off my tasty prize. The treat lady is frowning but there is a glint in her eye – the kind I give before I’m about to zoom around the house and chew on anything that looks like fun. Not that anyone understands – they always seem surprised and annoyed when I shoot off. I’ve never seen a look like that from a human, I’m waiting for her to run around the shop and bite all the furniture, but she stays where she is.

       My owner's face is as sour as it always is, she is staring hard at the lady. Her angry "I’m waiting for you to do what you’re told" face. She’s not giving in. Maybe I should help.


Should the dog help?

[options

1. NO! He has his bone, he should just enjoy it!

2. Yes - he should drop the bone

3. Yes - by running out of the store and leaving them to it - winning option]

 

Part 3

They keep talking, my owner’s voice getting louder and higher while the treat lady remains lovely and calm. I decide that I should help resolve the situation. With the bone - the yummy, delicious, perfect bone that has caused all this trouble – firmly in my mouth, I get up and shoot off.

           I know this will work because my owner is distracted, she is holding the lead so loosely in her palm that it will slip out of her hand at the slightest tug. I know that she thinks I am trained to not do this. I am. But this is more important than some arbitrary human rules.

       The escape plan works, she barely moves as I pull away, the lead trailing behind me without resistance. I hop out of the open door and run down the street. I can hear footsteps behind me – far too slow to catch me. The steps are followed by shouts.  Loud, angry shouts that just encourage me to run. Ahead of me is a peaceful place where I can tuck into my prize. Behind me is punishment for... well... I’m not really sure what for. I’m not doing any harm after all. Honestly, if you were me, what would you do?

       I find a nice quiet place around the corner. There is a man sleeping next to a large container – it smells pretty good, I might check it out later if I can jump up far enough. The man doesn’t stir when I approach so I sit down next to him – it’s cold out and he is a good source of heat – and tuck into my reward. It’s even more delicious when I have some quiet to focus on it.

*

I don’t know what time it is, but this narrow street is getting dark. At one point, the man next to me woke up and patted my head lightly. He called me “Good Dog” before getting up and wandering off. He seemed nice, I gave him a quick lick to say so. His skin was nice and salty.

       But now the dark is creeping in, I am not sure what to do. I haven’t been out alone in the dark before. This place is nice enough but it’s not as cosy as my bed at home. I need to figure out how to get back. 

Where should the dog go?

[Options:

1. Back to the shop - winning option

2. Home

3. Nowhere - he should wait until someone finds him]

Part 4

I definitely don’t know the way home from here. We came in what the humans call a car. The car is magnificent, I go in and magically come back out at the park, the treat shop, the giant, never-ending fields with those big fluffy white balls with legs in. It’s great. Well, our car is great. The others that zoom past me when I’m walking along minding my own business are awful. I tell them to go away – they do but then another one just comes along soon after.

       So, I guess my only option is to head back to the shop. I was sprinting along earlier, not taking in my surroundings, but I think I can remember the way. I can’t stay here forever after all. My owner isn’t that smart, I don’t think she’d ever find me. She’ll probably be missing me terribly. To my surprise, I miss her a little bit too.

        I head back the way I came, occasionally sniffing the path to make sure I’m retracing my steps. It’s more challenging than I thought – there are lots of scents on the street mingled with my own, I really have to sniff in some places to pick up my smell again. But I finally manage to pick up the scent of the shop – it’s a strong one – and I follow my nose back to the door. It’s closed and the lights are off. I’m too late. They’ve left. They've abandoned me.

       There is nothing else I can do but sit and wail at the entrance. It’s not worked before, but there’s a first time for everything! One thing I always am is hopeful.

        I don’t need to wail for very long before the door creaks open. Oh my, it finally worked! It’s still dark but that’s fine, I know that the people inside are good people. I trot on in and sniff around. There is a new smell in here. It’s fresh. Metallic. It’s all over the floor. I sniff around and lick the nearest patch. It’s blood. I don’t know what kind but it’s yummy!

        The person that lets me in pats me on the head but doesn’t speak, I still don’t know who it is. They shuffle about around me, locking the door before turning on the lights. Wow, there is a lot of blood on the floor – I came back at just the right time!

But... whose blood is it?

[Options

  • A random stranger

  • The shop owner

  • The dog's owner - winning option]

Finale

I am snuffling away, licking up the tangy red wetness off the floor. I usually get told off for eating things that I find on the ground. Then the human goes and cleans it up anyway! I’ve never understood that. Surely I am doing them a favour.

       It’s this thought that makes me stop and look up. My owner would never just pat me on the head and leave me to consume delicious floor treats.

       My owner isn’t there. It’s the shop lady. She is smiling down at me. She calls me good dog. Wow, two good dogs in a day! That has my tail wagging. I look back down and lick more enthusiastically, cleaning each spot thoroughly before moving on to the next.

       The shop lady starts singing in a sweet, quiet voice as she moves away into another room. The licking and the sound of her melody starts to settle into my bones, making me blissfully sleepy. I don’t even flinch when I hear a loud whirring noise from a room somewhere in the back of the shop. The intermittent grinding noise is a bit unsettling but I stay calm. It’s not getting any louder so it’s not getting closer to me.

       Eventually, the noise stops, and I can hear the shop lady’s kind voice float through from the other room again. The first chopping sound startles me, the wet thump of metal on flesh. Like the time my owner was chopping up the large piece of meat I found resting on the side, waving the knife angrily at me after every chop. But no shouting follows, just more calm singing.

       I settle back down and must drift off for a while because when I open my eyes the shop lady is in front of me. Her face is beaming through the splatters of blood. Her eyes are like mine when I see a squirrel. So excited, bordering on frenzied.

       She has a bone in her hand. It looks and smells just like the other one I left in the alleyway but fresher.

       She lays it down in front of me, gives me another pat and my third "good dog" of the day.

       The THIRD.

       What a perfect little day for a very good dog.

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