When beef on the bone was banned (1997), I bought a whole side and had it delivered by van. I had hired a butcher, and he set up his block outside my side door, and cut as I boxed it up in the kitchen. I can butcher game adequately, but get a bit lost in all the various muscles in the rump of beef - topside, silverside, top rump and so on. So the butcher cut, and I boxed - I was sharing it with three friends - and everything was left on the bone. I mean, even the brisket (which is OK on the bone, but better rolled when it comes down to it).
Even so, there were bones surfacing as by-products; you don't eat anything on the femur of a cow, for example. Not unless you wear a horned helmet, at least. And Oscar thought it was his birthday.
That's him at the top of this post. He was the only dog I ever had from a pup (except a wolf-german shepherd cross I had in Alaska, and found a family for when I had to come back to the UK - a dog from the far north shouldn't be quarantined for six months), all the others have been rescues, but I don't think that's the only reason he was so special to me.
For one thing, he was a big fella - that's a three-seater sofa he's lying on in the picture. A breeder of Great Danes crossed the road one day to tell me he was the biggest dog she'd ever seen.
He understood language so well that "walk" became "w.a.l.k." to keep him from getting prematurely excited, then when he learned that it became "promenade", then "excursion"... then just the word "would" - as in "would he like to go out?" - became a buzz word, and so it remains to this day in my house for my other dogs.
And he understood bones, a lot better than he understood the meaning of the word "covert". As the butcher cut, Oscar pestered, so I sent him down into the garden beyond. He then tried sneaking back along the blindside of the van. There wasn't much room though, so he tried to barge the van out of the way, and it rocked side to side on its suspension. When his head peered carefully round the corner, he was mortified to see us all standing looking and grinning at him. There's nothing a dog hates more than to be laughed at. He backed out and returned, with studied carelessness, to the garden. Ten minutes later, the van started rocking from side to side again... Oscar had his fill of bones that day.
I wish I could give him bones today, but he died last January. Big dogs don't live so long, and nine was a good age. He was an English Mastiff, the oldest English breed. Huge, powerful, fierce, gentle and protective. You should absolutely not let a mastiff suspect you're a danger to a child of his or her family. The Anglo Saxons and early English let them loose at night, and I'd take that over our present excuse for a police force any day.
They'd be a better symbol for the English than the modern, crippled, bulldog. For the English I want to be a part of.
But this post is about Oscar. I miss him, but I'm glad I knew him.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Posted by Peter Risdon at 11:29 pm