The foolish little labrador was found yesterday lying sphinxlike on the floor, industriously gnawing at a bone. There’s a sort of rodent quality in doggy perseverance with this apparently unrewarding pastime; the rrr-rrr-rrr of high-quality teeth slipping against hard old bone goes on for hours. Nobody had given Dido a bone within living memory, so it was therefore fair to assume that she had nicked it. Her friend Blue the goofy weimaraner (the enormous junior dog of the Geordie Ambassador, something between Scooby Doo and the hound of the Baskervilles) is frequently given bones, and it is far from unknown for Dido to distract him with crude feminine wiles, steal his toy, and have it away down the hill on her toes before he’s quite realised what happened. But eventually, even a labrador’s jaw will tire, at which point the dear little animal will inevitably leave the thing where it can most conveniently be fallen over by someone carrying a full mug of hot liquid. Such an accident had been duly arranged, when Dr Biswell pounced on the saliva-slimed Exhibit ‘A’. He was on the point of thwarting her tiny jape by slinging it into her noisome bed for her to find later, when he stopped, turning it around. ‘What kind of a bone is this anyway?’ Old, was the first thought, whitish, any remaining delicious fattiness no more than a happy canine memory. A hip bone … not a sheep, far too big. not a cow, far too small. Not a pig, too slender … By this point, dear detective story reader, we were beginning not quite to look each other in the eye. ‘Dido, darling. Here’s your lovely bone.’ There are problems for which life is too short. Rrrr…rrr…rrr.