Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bone wars

It has been a long-established rule of the backyard that Pep gets first go at the best bones.

And in true little sister style, no matter if we now have to buy her the smaller flanky ones (because she can no longer carry the large ones, they are too heavy for our old girl) and Jazz still gets the big, "get this in yer gob if ye can, Dog," gigantaur bones with the big hocks on either end, Pepper will still get her bone stolen at some point before sunset of that first day in joyous bony heaven. Bloody Jazz and her bloody need to take whatever is Pep's. And now, Peppy doesn't even realise. It breaks my heart a little bit!

The thing that really fascinates me is, this dance around the bones that they both do seems to work in both their favours. They have it worked out, even though there is a bit of a cold war going on between them. See, Jazz cannot work a good bone to save herself. But Pep can. So even if Jazz gets the "good" bone, at some point in the week I'll see Pepper working at it (Jazz isn't an idjit, she knows that what Pepper wants, Pepper gets and there is no challenge from the young dog anytime). This means that Pep does get the good stuff. And Jazz gets the rest. Which is still far more than she'd ever have reached because she doesn't have the patience like Pepper to work hard to break off the bone and get the marrow.

Pepper and bones have a long history. She is, after all, past 16 now. And I have never seen a dog go at marrow like she can. These days, she works herself into a pant in hardly any time at all. And she drinks copious buckets of water when she's on the job too.

She doesn't attempt to bury her bones anymore. It's as if this is an immature thing that other young doggies do, and not something an elderly canine matron does. But in her younger years, Pep used to make me and Steve belly laugh at the somewhat challenged way she chose to hide her bones.

Instead of digging a hole, either with the bone in her mouth or by her side on the ground (as is the usual custom of every other dog I've ever known), Pepper would wander around for aaaages - not unheard of, granted - just looking for that perfect spot. This was no easy task for the girl. Our backyard for much of her entire life with us had barely 10m squared of earth bare for her (atrocious, really) so her only spots were under bushes, pretty much. She always had this habit, though, of gently placing her stash on the ground and then, instead of digging the hole and putting the bone inside it, she'd dig a hole next to her bone and push the dirt from that hole up onto her bone.

It wasn't too hard, then, to see where Peppy had put her latest treasure. And we would bend over double giggling at her (how rude of us, laughing at her) and asking out loud, "Oh Pep-pee, what's this!" We'd point and she'd get all funny and a bit gruff. We even used to get barked at on occasion, kind of like "Shudduuuuup, you'll give my hiding spot away. To the cat." Like the cat cared. Or couldn't tell where Pepper had hidden her bone. I mean, the thing was almost always sticking out the top of a mound of dirt the size of a small mountain. Next to a deep, doggy-clawed hole.

Oh my dear old girl. I looked at her yesterday and we locked gazes. For ages and absolute ages. Every day now, I catch myself thinking, "Is today going to be the day I find her lying peacefully somewhere in the sun, not breathing?" She's been around so long now (we have had her since 1995) that I can't bear for the day to come and yet, I know it must.

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