Last week I made beef stock out of three big marrow bones. After the stock had simmered overnight, I strained it, filled eight quart jars with the base for future soups and easy suppers, and put them in the freezer. I scooped up the mushy vegetables and fed them to the chickens. Then I called Wolfie and Lexi to the back door, handed them each a greasy bone and sent them outside. I put the third bone in a plastic bag and stored it in the freezer.
Lexi lay down on the snow close to the house and set to gnawing her bone. Wolfie, knowing her propensity for sidling up and taking things from him, carried his a safe distance away. They gnawed for a long time, but eventually came back in, leaving the bones out on the snow.
Over the next few days, when she was outside, Lexi worked on her bone some more. Wolfie, that goof-ball, lost his.
Tonight, when they came in from their post-dinner outing, Lexi brought her bone inside. I immediately went on alert. There were now two dogs in the house, and only one (relatively) fresh bone . (There are plenty of thoroughly-gnawed, well-aged bones all over our floors, a hazard to us bipeds.) Bones can be a touchy subject with dogs, and I didn\’t want Wolfie and Lexi to have a fight over this one.
So I got the third bone out of the freezer and handed it to Wolfie. He was delighted, and clearly realized that this was a bone hitherto untouched by any dog. Lexi immediately lost interest in her bone and started looking intently at the new one.
At that point, to remind her that she had her own bone, I started to pick it up and she growled softly at me (Lexi only ever growls very, very softly). I admonished her, made her sit, took the bone, then handed it back to her. She gnawed on it for a few minutes. Then, quietly she started walking towards Wolfie, but I hissed at her and she gave up, for the moment.
I had to hiss at her several more times. Then I got busy putting more wood in the stove and when I looked up, Lexi had Wolfie\’s bone. But Wolfie had Lexi\’s bone! They had made the switch, peacefully and amicably, while I wasn\’t watching. Perhaps, I reflected, I get over-involved in dog issues, making sure that Lexi doesn\’t take advantage of Wolfie\’s good nature, protecting her from his size and weight and energy. Maybe they really do know how to work things out for themselves. Maybe I should be more laissez faire.
As I was mulling this over, Wolfie started whining. He needed to go out–truly, madly, immediately. So I let him out. Guess what he was carrying when he came in? His old bone! His dear old ice-encrusted bone that we thought he had lost. His old-but-not- forgotten bone, SO much better than the new bone.
He is gnawing on it loudly as I write, and Lexi is lying on her bed in front of the stove, giving him sharp looks because he sounds like he\’s having way too much fun.