ALWAYS BURY YOUR BONE IN THE SPACE YOU DON’T KNOW

I enter my office and see Aussie staring out the glass door. Outside, directly in her line of vision, Harry is burying a marrow bone under a big rock. He digs and digs, sending the dirt spray high in the air, sneaking looks around to make sure no one sees him. When the hole’s deep enough he rolls the bone in, then covers it up with dirt and dry leaves, giving a final triumphant kick with his back paws. Aussie watches and watches, tail wagging merrily.

I know just what the conversation—in a day or two—is going to be:

“You stole my bone! How did you find it?”

“What a dummy! I watched you through the glass door and saw what you were doing. Who told you to bury a bone so close to da Boss’s office?”

“It’s the space I know.”

“But you have the entire back yard, Harry. There’s the space by the wooden woman, the space by the shed, the new daffodils I like to pee on.”

“But I don’t go there too often, Aussie. It’s the space I don’t know.”

“You should always bury your bone in the space you don’t know, Harry.”

“Let’s play tug-of-war with Rhino.”

“I can’t, Harry, I  have to maintain social distance.”

“But if we pull and pull, Aussie, don’t you think we could get far enough from each other so that we’re safe?”

“The only thing that’ll keep us safe, Harry, is if da Boss gets us a bigger toy.”

“Aussie, what does being safe mean?”

“It means knowing you won’t get sick, you won’t be hungry, the house will never fall on top of you, and you’ll never die.”

“But that’s impossible, Aussie. I mean, if I don’t get sick now I could always get sick later, especially when I get old.”

“Not me, Harry.”

“And if a tree falls on top of the house—”

“I’ll be cavorting outside, Harry. The tree won’t touch me.”

“As for never being hungry—”

“I’ve taken a vow to become a balloon.”

“And of course we’ll die, Aussie. Who doesn’t die?”

“I won’t. I plan to outlast da Boss and I plan to outlast you. Won’t have much fun without you, Harry, but there’s always somebody else I could boss around.”

“Wow, Aussie, I’ve never met anybody like you before. Would you be my teacher, Aussie?”

“Only if you promise to listen to me. When we run away, who’s the one who takes you around? Who shows you the raccoon condos and the rabbit runways?”

“You do, Auss.”

“Remember the time da Boss was gone and we made it all the way to Leverett, Harry? Wasn’t that great?”

“No, I ended up in somebody’s house and Tim had to come and get me.”

“That’s because you didn’t stay with me, Harry. I could have brought you home.”

“But Aussie, I lost a toenail. So I whined outside the door and this nice woman took me in. I played with her dogs and she fed me. She’d have done the same for you.”

“I don’t go to strangers’ houses. And I could have brought you home if you’d only listened to me. If you want me to be your teacher, Harry, you have to listen. I can teach you all the things I know!”

“The Boss always says it’s about not-knowing, Aussie.”

“She knows nothing.”

“That’s my point. If you’re my teacher, Aussie, are we going to do face-to-face, just like the Boss does?”

“No, Harry, we’re going to do knows-to-knows. We’re dogs, after all.”