Over ‘ere, son. On me ‘ead.

“So… what’s the boss doing today, Hobie?”

“You’ve asked the right Labrador, Flash. I know all about this”


“I listened in while the boss was talking to his mate about it.”

“You mean the mistress?”

“That’s the only mate the boss has.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Did you wink at me then, Flash? I didn’t know dogs could wink. Anyway, let me tell you something about humans. According to the sacred texts, they mate for life and have a monogamous relationship.”

“And if they want to spread their genes further than just one mate?”

“Then the pair-bond would be broken, and that never goes well. But I know for sure the boss doesn’t do that.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Well, remember the human we used to live with?”

“The one that’s in a rescue centre now?”

“Yes, only it’s not a rescue centre, it’s a prison.”

“What’s the difference?”

“You don’t get rescued. Simple as.”

“What about him?”

“I could always tell when he had mated with another female.”


“You, Flash, have extremely good eyesight; that’s your strength. I’m practically blind, but by golly, my nose makes up for it.”

“So you’re saying…”

“I’m saying that the boss only ever mates with the mistress.”

“Alright. So what did you hear about what he’s doing today?”

“You remember that young kestrel the boss brought home, the one he keeps in the aviary next to the redtail?”


“And you know he’s been training it up and exercising it to get it ready to go free?”

“I know all that.”

“Well, he reckons it’s nearly ready to go. Today’s lesson is teaching it to hover—”

“Like kestrels do…”

“Yeah – it’s how they hunt. But he told the mistress that he can’t let it go free until he knows that it can do that.”

“So how’s he plan to teach it to hover? He can hardly explain it with diagrams, can he?”

“The plan, he said, is to cast it into the field, the call it back with the whistle for a bit of food. Then, just as it’s ready to drop onto his fist to claim the reward, he’s gonna hide it. The kestrel’s supposed to hover and look for it, and as soon as it does, he’ll bring the food out again.”

“That sounds like a plan, but is he sure the bird’s smart enough to know that?”

“Let’s watch – well, you watch, I’ll listen. Out it goes, into the field … whistle … the bird comes back and… hide the food.”

“Erm, Hobie…”


“Does the master know he’s got a kestrel on his head?”

“Has he?”

“Yes. As soon as he hid the food, the bird landed in his hair. You don’t suppose it’ll build a nest in there, do you?”

“I doubt it, but it tells us one thing. We didn’t need to wonder if the bird’s smart enough to work out what the master’s doing.”

“If I stand here and give him the look, d’you suppose the master’ll toss me a bit of the bird’s food?”

“Probably, Flash. He knows you’ll catch it, and he likes to end on a high.”

I wrote this in response to Kreative Kue 173, issued on this site earlier this week. Feel free to join in; just follow the link.


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