Among the many unjustified criticisms The Boss has of my behaviour, by far the most hypocritical is his disdain for my inclination - when opportunity permits - to add some alluring bouquet to my fine brown frame.
I refer to the spiritual act of luxuriating in any malodorous matter a keen hound might sniff out on a morning walk, which can range from a still-warm cow pat or fly-blown sheep carcass to a decaying carp on the river bank.
The other day, it happened to be a fresh cow pat – a joyous experience for a dog, but a profound disappointment for his Boss. Queenie, my mum, quickly insisted on first rights, as she does. Then I took my turn.
We both trotted happily home, armed with that fragrant ring of confidence - but I have to say it was quite unappreciated. We were ignored for some hours. Later in the morning, we endured the full Woolmix treatment, not to mention some rough handling from our disgruntled master.
His hard, soapy scrubbing was accompanied by a torrent of grumbles when he could have been breathing in the full glory of the moment. It was a missed opportunity for him – and took the oil out of my coat, which keeps me warm in the water. Chessies aren’t supposed to be washed with Woolmix and I need to lay the instruction book on his lap to remind him.
Better still, he could have spent profitable moments reflecting on the compulsion humans have for enlarging their own personalities - with a range of adornments that dogs can only dream about.
The best a dog can do, after all, is acquire a savoury aroma; there is not much else to be done in the way of expanding one’s presence, except perhaps turning up at the back door with a half-eaten rabbit, or a dead parrot - and the occasional bark.
For humans, on the other hand, the aftershave and eau de cologne is just the start of it. Not that those distracting scents have much appeal to a dog: a dog immediately seeks the unvarnished truth behind a person. And we know where to head for that.
Consider the humans’ clothes. In the bow-and-arrow days, clothes were purely designed to keep them warm, after they abandoned their fur to the chimpanzees.
Instead of something furred and warm, they muck about with short dresses, long dresses, thin shoulder straps , bare arms, bare legs, thin shirts with those useless ties, suits to make them look important, hats that look chewable but don’t keep the sun off or the rain out and high-heeled or clunky shoes they can’t walk in.
Then they wear necklaces for show, whereas a dog has a collar or leash for restraint. Some dogs even have electrified collars, reserved for owners who don’t know how to instruct a dog.
Some girls wear a choker collar made of fake diamonds to look pretty, but my collar has plastic rings that tell the dog catcher that The Boss has paid my registration. It’s not fair. She likes wearing her sparkling collar; I don’t.
Humans have watches and belts and shoes and rings and earrings to tell other humans something that isn’t true about them; we dogs just sniff each other to figure out the hierarchy. It takes a few seconds and we’re good at it.
Humans wear all these trinkets and circle around each other like crabs for years - and still mess it up.
But it does give me particular pleasure to see humans sticking things into themselves. The Boss has reminded me (to the point of boredom) that I was the only one of my eight siblings who squealed when they stuck an ID chip in my back. I like to think I was only standing up for my rights.
Anyway, there it is. A Vet can scan me and find out to whom I belong, even if I don’t know myself. Pretty soon, humans will start implanting chips because they think it’s fun, or convenient, or attests to their credit-worthiness but, trust me, it’s not worth it.
Anyway, that brings me to tattoos, where humans enlarge their personalities in inexplicable ways and take some pain to get there. The Boss was brought up when a few old Navy blokes and prisoners-of-war had them and reckons they look pretty shabby when you get old. I don’t have any myself and I’m not sure where you’d put one. (He offered to put a Richmond tattoo in my ear.)
And he reckons Dusty can have as many tattoos as he likes so long as he keeps firing up the Tigers, so there he is being hypocritical again.
But I’m with him on his disapproval of multiple rings through the nostril, which would get in the way of my necessary sniffing of dogs and people. He’s never forgotten the skin-head he was on a table with, when he and the Missus took a cruise down the Thames in London twenty years ago.
This feller had a tiny silver dagger stuck vertically down his left eye-brow and The Boss had a hard time looking at him. It made him shiver. All I can do with a splash of cow pat is make him boil. I suppose I should be grateful. Woof!