The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)

It’s a dog’s life for some, make no bones about it

An Afghan feast reminds Fiona that it’s good to share, although a measly carrot doesn’t quite cut the mustard in terrier terms


Ihave been making soup and when it cools, Barra the cocker spaniel gets the large ham bone. Bone police, please note: I take it away from him before he starts to splinter the thing so do not report me. Of course, when you make a broth there is generally only one bone. But even if there were more, the Norfolk terrier is too little to gnaw on such a calcified beast.

Like children, though, the MacNaughti­es have a great sense of fairness.

So when I offer Rummie the end of a carrot as a consolatio­n he puts it into his mouth and spits it out in disgust.

The dogs normally go mad for carrots. Then competitio­n is a great spur to hoovering everything up. However, this time I do not blame him.

Who wants a boring old piece of veg when there is scrummy meat and marrow on offer? It is rather like offering the chief limp lentils rather than a firm, juicy steak. It is akin to serving stewed apple instead of his favourite sticky toffee pudding.

So Rummie sits under the table and sulks for the morning. Which is understand­able. Research shows that dogs who feel they are being left out stop co-operating.

And monkeys, it seems, are even more aware of the unjustness of life. In a recent experiment they gave one chimp a slice of cucumber and another a bunch of sweet grapes. The monkey with the cucumber flew into a violent rage and hurled his offering out of the cage.

Happily, there is no such food tantrum for me. An Afghan lady I have just got to know has some girls over to lunch – and what a spread she puts on.

Nasrin’s husband is working with a British company, so they are based over here. She is a trained doctor but if that line of work dries up, she must open a restaurant.

Succulent steamed meat and onion dumplings arrive with a split pea, mint and tomato sauce. There is a saffron lamb pilaf to die for. Currants, carrots and aubergines feature in various multicolou­red salads – and still it keeps on coming, all rounded off by custard and a vast bowl of chopped fruit mixed with nuts and cream.

Then hospitalit­y is key in Afghanista­n. Your good reputation relies on your generosity towards visitors to your home. Indeed, I have been warned by the chief who has spent time over there not to admire anything too greatly, for it might be presented as a gift.

When I offer Rummie the end of a carrot as a consolatio­n he puts it into his mouth and spits it out in disgust

Flavour and kindness are the order of the day – as is laughter and glamour. One lady there is from India and she has the most fabulous painted nails. As mine are fishing fingers and very poor offerings, I try to hide them under the table.

We talk about children and health. We dip into Brexit and the forthcomin­g election, but not deeply. Two pleasant hours fly by. And not a brooding dog’s face in view…

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