In the park a small dog is chasing ducks. When the ducks reach the pond the dog does not follow them in but instead rolls on the floor and waits for its owner to tickle its belly. I do not know what kind of small dog it is. Nor do I know what kind of ducks they are. Standard-issue park ducks, I suppose. I wonder if this lack of detail matters. Would I be a better writer if I knew the proper names for these things?
The owner tickles the small dog’s belly and then she throws a stick in the opposite direction to the pond, which the dog, of unspecified make or breed or whatever, obviously chases after. Whilst the dog is chasing, she turns back to the pond, takes some bread from the pocket of her coat and hurls it towards the ducks. With the wind behind it, the bread travels further than expected. It seems to be olive and walnut ciabatta.
I could be wrong as I only make this identification as the bread arcs through the air, but I am pretty sure I am correct. The question which now springs to mind – replacing the question of the specific breed of the dog, now returning with the stick between its drooly chops – is this: What is she doing feeding such a well-to-do bread to a bunch of standard-issue ducks?
I decide that – although the dog owner is, presumably, able to differentiate between the various breeds of dog – she is perhaps unable to tell the difference between different types of bread. This must be it. I bite triumphantly into my braeburn.
Once I have finished my apple I consider approaching her and asking about the choice of bread, and maybe suggesting that it would be better to feed cheaper bread to the ducks. I imagine how the conversation might go.
“Excuse me. What is that you are feeding to the ducks, if you don’t mind me asking?” “I don’t know, just some kind of bread.” “Yes, I thought so. It looks very much like ciabatta with olive and walnut in, to me.” “Perhaps, I wouldn’t know… Good boy!” (This last comment aimed toward the small dog and not myself.) “That is rather expensive bread, are you aware that there are cheaper breads which may be more suitable to give to ducks.” “Do ducks not need good bread?” “I don’t think they appreciate it that much.” “Oh.” “Yes.” “Well, thank you for the advice. I will bear it in mind.” “No problem. By the way, could I ask what is the breed of your dog?” “Sorry?” “What kind of dog is it?” (I point at the dog.) “He. He’s a spaniel.” “Of course. Thank you.” “Goodbye.” “Cheerio.”
Of course I do not even start this conversation and I am no nearer to learning what kind of dog I am watching chase ducks in the park, which I believe was the whole point of my wondering.