The dog speaks:
"Mornings, we leap out of the car to visit our plot. Can't imagine why he calls it 'plot.' I have better names. Racetrack. Burrowing ground. Bamboo grove. Bottle bank. The Alps.
" 'Racetrack' is obvious. If I charge round its edges 25 times without stopping, I can become a speed-blur. Thing is, though, he wants it to be a steeplechase. I never know what obstacle he's going to come up with next. Compost. Bricks. Raspberry canes. And some of them grow, too. I mean stuff he calls 'beans,' and 'peas.' He adds strings and sticks to them. They get right in the way. Smaller things ('seedlings') he puts white sheets over (calls it 'fleece') and spiderwebs of string. No problem. They break up easily if you hit them right.
" 'Burrowing ground.' This one he and I have in common. He's forever burrowing. He uses prongs and slicers, but sometimes hands and gloves.
"In this business I give him serious assistance. Being small, I can go deep into a hole. He has to scoop the soil up. But I scratch and throw it behind me in a beautiful earth-fountain. One puzzling thing, though. He burrows silently. But I say, if you're thrilled, tell the world! Strange, humans. They never squeal at the right times. And as for barking, they always do it, at me, just when I'm enjoying myself most.
"Like when we have visitors. He barks at me instead of them! He is voice-friendly to them, but softly. And why doesn't he charge at them and jump up? No etiquette. Mind you, some of the visitors fuss. Joe and Monty fuss. Big Ted tries to 'train me a bit' by saying 'Sit!' firmly, like an old pro. (I know what 'sit' means, but who sits when they are in welcome mode? Ridiculous.) John and Cathy Macleod love me a lot, and Christopher propped John up pleasantly enough one time when he almost toppled over backward with a little gasp. It was just after I leapt up to say 'John! John! John!!' He said: 'It's all right, Mutt, they're my second-best trousers!' I think he meant his leg-fur. How can you have second-best leg-fur? Also, I do wonder why he calls me Mutt. My name's Muff.
" 'Bamboo Grove.' All I mean by that is that he has all these wonderful bamboo poles leaning against our kennel. (He calls it a 'shed'), the same ones he uses with his peas. It isn't often you find so many perfect bamboos in one place. They are trickier to chew than branches, but I'm honing my skills.
'ICALL it 'bottle bank,' because there are so many in the kennel. I sneak in to find one. The bottles are plastic. Sometimes he halves them across, and places them over a seedling. No idea why. Anyway, I grab them. Dance with them. Toss them up. Catch them. Or drop them into the big hole. I (naturally) bark and squeak till he fishes them out.
" 'The Alps.' Well, he calls them 'manure,' 'compost,' 'bonfire.' But they are mountains, and I stand on them. Gives me good wide air to sniff. And I can watch for people coming and going and let them know I'm in residence.
"One morning, I was on the compost watching Red next door. My collar got snagged on Red's barbed wire. I didn't fuss. Just stood there, waiting quietly. For about an hour. When Christopher finally noticed, and unhooked me, he laughed. Don't know why. He said: 'Oh, Muff! Oh, Stationary Muff! We should do this more often!' And then he laughed again."
*A weekly series about a municipal garden in Glasgow, Scotland.