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Photo by Jessica Bolander
Photo by Jessica Bolander

Good Bone vs. Bad Bone

The following is a great little dog story that has circulated for years in the dog press. The author’s name is not known. It was not written specifically about Sighthounds but could apply to any breed. It has not, as far as we know, ever appeared in a Sighthound magazine before. For our purposes I imagined the characters involved as Salukis, but you can substitute your own breed of choice. - Ed.

My three bored Salukis are casting about for a way to amuse themselves on a dull, rainy afternoon. Their toy box is overflowing with dead toys. The neighborhood cats are staying indoors. There are no joggers. Life could hardly be more tedious. Experience has taught me that I will not like their creative solutions to boredom, so I wisely decide to provide them a diversion. “Look what I found!” rouses their interest. “Three brand new rawhide bones!” (Which no Saluki could ever confuse with the many old corpses of boring rawhide bone segments in their toy box.)

The three bones are identical in form, length, weight — in every way indistinguishable from another, at least to mere human perception. Any reasonable observer would now expect to see three Salukis settling down contentedly to enjoy three rawhide bones. Any reasonable observer, that is, who has never lived with several Salukis.

Unfortunately, an as yet unidentified factor in the Saluki genetic code prevents any Saluki from seeing three bones as identical. This rogue chromosome causes any Saluki to recognize instantly which of the three is Good Bone, and which two are hopelessly Bad Bones.

The dominant, or Alpha, Saluki of course commandeers Good Bone at once. Beta Saluki and Gamma Saluki drop their tails, look accusingly at their Bad Bones and at me, then turn away to lie as close as they dare to Alpha Saluki and Good Bone.

Suddenly three heads lift and turn. Can it possibly be? Yes! There, lying beside an indisputably Bad Bone at the other end of the room, is Good Bone!

They roll their eyes. They creep forward a millimeter at a time. Large pools of saliva collect on the carpet under their chins. How they wish THEY had bones!

Alpha Saluki is oblivious to their suffering. Alpha Saluki tosses Good Bone in the air and catches it again. Alpha Saluki’s jaws diligently work to soften both ends of Good Bone, so it can release its enticing aromas, make properly seductive squishing sounds, and glue attractive fragments of itself to the carpet. Demonstrating herself to be a true virtuoso of the rawhide bone, Alpha Saluki, with one deft maneuver, manages to untie both ends at once! (The ultimate Saluki puzzle.) Beta and Gamma Salukis whimper quietly.

An hour or more passes. Good Bone grows smaller and smaller, while Beta Saluki and Gamma Saluki’s eyes grow larger and larger. Alpha Saluki’s jaws work more slowly as Good Bone diminishes. At last only a tiny piece of Good Bone remains. Alpha Saluki drops it to the floor and looks way. Alpha Saluki stands and walks toward the window. Quivering with the tension of the moment, Beta and Gamma Salukis edge closer to the prize. At the last possible millisecond, Alpha Saluki, with a roar, pounces, chews, and — yes! — swallows the last remnant of Good Bone.

Three Salukis sigh... one with contentment, and two with almost intolerable frustration. Three Salukis lie down.

Three Bored Salukis are once again casting about for a way to amuse themselves on a dull, rainy afternoon. Suddenly three heads lift and turn. Six eyes focus on... can it possibly be? Yes! How could they have been so mistaken earlier? There, lying beside an indisputably Bad Bone at the other end of the room, is Good Bone! Three Salukis erupt into action.

The dominant, or Alpha, Saluki of course commanders Good Bone...


Originally published in the Spring 2014 issue of Sighthound Review.

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