“How’s Harry doing?” Aussie wants to know.

We’re in the conservation land nearby, with its streams and pools, and Aussie is looking around for somebody to splash around with.

“Harry’s doing well with his new humans. He goes running early mornings—”

“And misses me.”

“—and he eats well—”

“And misses me.”

“—and tussles with the cat—”

“And misses me. What! He doesn’t miss me? I think it’s time to adopt another dog, Boss. How about Freddy, the German Shepherd, down the road? He walks around sometimes looking lost.”

“That’s a big dog, Aussie. Whenever we pass by him you look the other way, even though you’re safe in the back seat of the car. What about Squiggle the Yorkie?”

“He looks like something you put in a sandwich. What about Silly Milly, the white Lab across the railroad tracks? Boy, those Labs are d-u-m-b, dumb!”

“You like Molly, Aussie, and she’s a black Lab.”

“Nobody, but nobody, is as silly as Molly. I mean, what kind of stupid dog falls in love with a rock?”

We met Molly at the Conservancy, right above the small pond the dogs love to swim in. The first time we saw her she splashed, swam, chased, ran away, and generally had fun with Aussie. We next saw Molly during our weekly Sunday dog-in with lots of dogs. Molly ran down to the water, Aussie right behind her, and zeroed in on a small, round, black rock which she grabbed with her mouth and ran right up the slope.

“Oh no,” said her human, “not another rock! She loves rocks.”

And indeed, Molly licked and licked the rock, then put it on the ground and rubbed herself all over it.

“She’s bonding with her rock,” sighed her human.

“Looks to me like she’s having sex with it,” I told her.

Molly then picked up the rock with her mouth and threw it around a few times, then licked it and licked it, nuzzling and cuddling with it.

Aussie is watching all this, mortified. She couldn’t figure it out. She whined a little, nudged Molly, and Molly ignored her. The black Lab finally rolled the rock down the slope and into the water and ran after it, Aussie right behind her, ready to splash and swim and have some real fun.

But Molly found the rock in the water, picked it up, hurried up the slope, and the lovemaking began all over again: Lick, rub, roll and shimmy, toss around a few times, lick up again. Not a glance or sniff towards Aussie.

Aussie was dumbfounded. No dog had ever thrown her over for a rock. She tried to sniff it as it lay between Molly’s paws but Molly edged her out of the way. She whinnied and rubbed the ground with her paws repeatedly, trying to get Molly’s attention, but Molly was paying attention to just one thing: her rock.

Finally Molly’s younger human, down by the water, called to her and Molly went running. Instantly Aussie pounced on the rock. Slowly she sniffed it, then licked it, concentrating hard, trying to discern the magic and flavor. Was this a special toy? Why did her friend love it so much?

And that’s when Walker the Corgi jumped. He didn’t mean anything by it, he was just in the midst of one of his enthusiastic dashes around the enclave and on the way he jumped on Aussie. Aussie growled and shook him off. Walker didn’t pay attention and jumped at her again, this time close to the rock. Aussie’s lips curled.

“Walker, no!”

Too late. Aussie dropped the rock and, with a snarl, turned on Walker, who ran for his life. Aussie jumped after him, pushed him down on the ground, and snapped and snarled over his trembling belly. Then she rushed back to her rock.

Molly joined soon, and more rock squabbles ensued.

“They’re fighting over a rock,” Molly’s human said, shaking her head. “Go figure.”

I started thinking about what we humans fight over. I imagined some beings somewhere, vaster and more intelligent than we are, watching us fight. About what? About who drives the car? Who pays for dinner? Who gets the promotion, the house, the money, the dog, the bigger toy rather than the smaller one?

Those beings must be shaking their heads: “Go figure.”