Identifying the real-life ‘dog with a bone’


It’s a term we’ve all heard over and over again throughout the course of our respective lifetimes — “Like a dog with a bone.”

It often gets attached to detectives chasing down leads on a case on television, or a reporter hunting down the real issues behind a story or a kid nagging a parent into buying them the latest and greatest toy ever created. Basically, it is used to describe an individual that is solely dedicated and single-minded in pursuit of a goal.

At my house, it typically means, well, a dog with a bone.

As a prime example, I present to you my Shar-pei, boxer conglomeration of a dog named Guinness. Now, to be honest, she’s a pretty good dog. She is fiercely loyal, loves to run and play, is incredibly affectionate and is amazingly gentle when taking a treat from my hand, often tentatively taking it from my fingers to make sure she doesn’t accidentally bite me. And I appreciate that.

But she also has her bad side. She will escape the yard every time she sees the slightest opening. If she manages to get free and sees another dog, she immediately kicks into a gear I simply don’t have and often disappears until I hear her in the distance arguing with another dog or she decides to return home. I often come back home after wandering the neighborhood looking for her and find her waiting at the door for me. Aargh. I just want to ...

But I digress.

Another side of Guinness that continues to amaze me is her love affair with bones. She absolutely adores those giant bones I pick up for her at various pet stores, and she begins to go into a panic attack the second she senses one just came in the door. She cries. She shakes. Nothing else matters in the world to this dog until it comes out of the bag, gets unwrapped and is handed to her waiting jaws.

And that is all you see of Guinness for the next few days.

She scurries off into a corner, lays down with the bone and immediately begins working it. There are some pretty frightening noises that come from both the dog and the bone and I often find myself subconsciously making sure that both my arms and legs are completely covered, lest she mistake my limb for the target of her affection.

And, for the record, I can assure you that there are very few more unsettling experiences than hearing teeth rip into a bone while you see a tail wagging. There’s a depravity to that particular scene that just can’t be put into words. I’ve likened it to watching a serial killer perform his deranged duties while he whistles show tunes.

Heebie-jeebies, meet Guinness.

I have watched her get up from the floor with the bone in her mouth, walk over to her water bowl, drop the bone in front of her, take a drink of water, pick up the bone and walk back into her corner and go right back to work on it. I have seen her go outside with the bone in her mouth, do her business and come right back in, never dropping the bone during the process. And I have awoken early many mornings to see Guinness asleep at the foot of the bed with the bone snugly under her chin. She knows she can’t eat the bone in bed, but she apparently feels it’s perfectly fine to sleep with it.

Now, I admit that I have gotten these bones for Guinness on more than one occasion because I knew people were coming over or I had a lot of stuff to do, and I needed her pre-occupied. And I don’t think she cares what the motivation behind her receiving a bone is, just so she gets it.

The one victim of collateral damage in all this is my pug, Bailey. Though Bailey is the unquestioned boss of the dogs in my home, even the puffed-up pug knows better than to get too close to Guinness when she has that bone. Bailey usually gets her way with Guinness by simply shooting her crazed growl at her, causing the much-bigger dog to immediately look in another direction and cower in fear. But it is Guinness that can freeze Bailey with a little bone-aided noise and Bailey knows this is one battle she should just walk away from.

You just can’t mess with that dog with a bone.