“Come on Aussie, let’s play. You pull on the bear in one direction and me in another. It’s time to get all the stuffing out!”

“Good idea, Harry, but I have an even better one.”

“What’s that, Auss?”

“Let’s do this in front of the statue outside, the Boss’s favorite place. We’ll rip the bear into shreds and all the white stuffing will fall out. She will be so happy to see that!”

“She will, Aussie?”

“Sure, Harry, it’ll be the first thing she sees when she opens her office door to look out at the back yard. Whenever the Boss is gone she likes to go out to the back and see what’s happened in her absence. Could you imagine her face when she sees all the white stuffing surrounding her favorite statue? Hee hee hee! I can just hear her.”

“What’ll she say, Aussie?”

Aussie, I know it’s you. You’re the culprit, Aussie, only you! That just makes my day. And you know what’s even better, Harry?”

“What, Auss?”

“She’ll have to go down on her knees and clean everything up right after she returns home when she’s still tired.”

“Aussie, why are you such a troublemaker?”

“It’s my nature, Harry. It’s my nature to be a pain in the ass.”

“The Boss likes to talk about Buddha nature, Aussie. She says it’s uborn, undying, unconditioned, –”

Un un un un. Who cares about anything that’s always un-this and un-that? I like Aussie nature.”

“What’s Aussie nature, Aussie?”

“Aussie nature was born when Aussie was born and will die when Aussie dies. It’s completely conditioned on whether or not she gets treats and food, gets lost, loses the Boss (even better), or manages to run away, in that order.”

“Does that mean that you’re only happy at those times, Aussie? What happens when none of those things happen?”

“Then I’m unhappy, dummy. Uncheerful, unfortunate, basically un.”

“But Aussie, that means that your happiness only depends on things going your way. Nobody has a life like that.”

“I do the best I can, Harry. Right now the best thing I can do is tear the bear apart right in front of the statue and get the Boss upset. That’s Aussie nature. She likes the statue, you know.”

“Why, Auss?”

“The Boss calls her Kwan-Yin, Buddha of compassion. Nothing seems to rile Kwan-yin. Doesn’t go up or down, doesn’t get upset with anybody, just does her best all the time.”

“Is that bad, Aussie?”

“No, it’s boring.”

“When does the Boss come back, Aussie?”

“Later this evening. We’ll run into the garage and act as if we’re happy to see her, she’ll bring her things in, unpack, and then you know what she’s going to do, don’t you, Harry?”

“See the mess we’ll leave in front of Kwan-Yin?”

“Nah, it’ll be too dark, that’s for tomorrow morning, I can’t wait. No, tonight she’ll take us out to the back, remember? Harry Aussie, come out to pee! It’s the last thing the Boss does before shutting off the lights and going upstairs. She likes to give orders, that’s Boss nature.”

“Only you don’t pee, Auss.”

“We always have the same conversation, Harry. She says: Aussie come out to pee before I shut the dog door for the night. And I say: I don’t pee on call, sorry.”

“But Aussie, you get treats if you pee—and treats are part of Aussie nature.”

“I meander over to the forsythia bush and crouch down, and she can’t see anything in the dark so she thinks I’m peeing and I get treats just like you. But I don’t submit, Harry. I never submit. That’s Aussie nature.”

“Harry nature is to get along.”

“Harry nature is to be a wimp.”