There’s a woman coming out of the park with her four Jack Russell terriers. They are barking and jumping around, in the way that most Jack Russells seem to do.
I am on my bike, waiting at the traffic lights when I hear the dogs, and turn immediately as I’d recognise those yelps anytime.
The woman and her four exuberant pooches are one of my favourite sights here in Amsterdam, and they are something I look out for when I am in this part of town.
Sometimes there are only three with her – seems the little wire haired one gets left at home on occassion, and I have it in my head that this is because he has been a little too exuberant for his own good. That he has gotten into some mischief that has caused him to be left at home, to ponder the error of his ways.
They’re that kind of dog you see. They’re prone to mischievous adventures.
A friend of mine, Eddie, used to live on a farm and they had a few dogs, two of which lived in the house with them – a Labrador and a Jack Russell.
One Easter his mum was cooking a huge lunch, consisting, among other things, of a lamb roast and a pork roast.
When the meat was done she laid it out on the table to rest, then went off to do something else. When she returned, the pork roast was gone and the Labrador looked decidedly guilty. For his sins he was banished to the wash room where his basket was.
The pork roast though was nowhere to be found. It had mysteriously disappeared.
Everyone pondered where it could have gone.
Surely, in the ten minutes or so that it was left out of sight, the Labrador couldn’t have had time to wolf down a whole roast? Hearty eaters as Labradors are, it seemed impossible.
And yet, the roast was definitely gone, so what other explanation could there possibly be?
The lunch passed and the pork roast was much missed.
Later, in the evening, Eddie’s mum went in to check on the shamed dog. He was lying on the floor looking very sheepish and sorry for himself, so she tried to coax him into his basket, but he wouldn’t move.
So she starts rearranging the blankets when low and behold! There’s the pork roast, lying hidden and secreted away.
A moment later, Eddie appears to say he has just found the Jack Russell. He’s in the barn and is out for the count, his distended belly, proof positive that the real thief has been found!
The little bugger had not only stolen the roast, but had had the presence of mind, it seems, to set up his Labrador chum by offloading the evidence into his basket.
I mean you have to admit, that’s a smart dog for you. A menace, okay, but come on, it’s smart!
And funny too. I guess that’s what makes these dogs so appealling. You just never know what they’re going to get up to.
Anyway, back to the four wee hounds on the street today. I’m watching them and remembering this story of Eddie’s Jack Russell, when the guy next to me, who has also been watching them, turns to me and asks:
“Hey, which one of them d’you reckon will die first?”
I don’t think he’s really expecting an answer, and the traffic light turns green before I get a chance to even begin to formulate a reply.
What a strange thing to say, I think to myself. But I smile a little too. It’s the kind of perverse little question that I enjoy.
So I cycle home pondering this rather bizarre and unexpected question and somewhere close to home I hit upon the answer.
It’s the one who manages to steal the most pork roasts that will no doubt meet his maker first…..