In these uncertain times we all have to try to scrape by as best we can and, to coin a phrase, “look after the pennies …” or as those on the Scottish side of my family would say, usually after several pints of heavy, “mony a mickle maks a muckle”.
So I got to thinking, pound coins are quite small and people often lose them. I know I do. Many’s the night I’ve come home thinking, “Where did all those pounds go?” and conclude I must have a hole in my pocket. In all of my pockets.
But if people lose them, they must be there to be found again.
Problem is, I’m quite tall and pound coins are quite small, and sort of blend in to general detritus on the floor. And my eyesight isn’t getting any sharper, so unless I crawl around on my hands and knees peering myopically like a mole that’s lost its glasses after being poked in both eyes, I’m very unlikely to spot the odd rogue pound coin on my perambulations.
But Ted, my oft perambulatory companion, is near to the ground. In fact, he’s so close to it, much of it adheres to him as he passes over it, so it shouldn’t be a difficult task for him to spot mislaid and abandoned coinage.
Next problem is that Ted is a dog, and in my experience dogs don’t have much use for money. I rarely see one in a bank opening an account. So it is quite likely that Ted is walking past a small fortune on a daily basis with no regard for the possibilities. He’s much too busy finding a good place to cock his leg. Again.
But what if I could explain to him the value of money? Perhaps if I left a copy of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations in his bed he might peruse it in the night? Maybe. Or maybe he might just chew it.
Maybe then I could persuade him that a pound coin is worth a (very) small piece of sausage and he could earn sausage for every pound he pointed out to me?
Now I know that for a real pound you can buy quite a big sausage, but you have to take into account the effort of buying it from the butchers, cooking it and cutting it up, none of which he can do, so I think it’s a fair deal. And if he doesn’t think it’s a fair deal, he won’t do it anyway. It’s not like I’m asking him to concentrate on nothing else whilst we’re out, just if he happens to come across a homeless quid to let me know it’s there. He can still look for pee-spots and cock his leg all he wants, just don’t overlook the potential to earn sausage from coinage.
So I’ve done it. I explained to Ted that nodding in the direction of a pound coin earns him a piece of sausage from me. And d’you know what? It works.
I started with the simple, “If you look at a quid on the floor, I give you sausage,” and marked the occasion with a click. I didn’t want it to be an intense, instructed, short term event, but a behaviour he can carry round with him wherever he goes. Just ticking away in the background so that when he randomly passes over a pound coin by the wayside he thinks, “That’s worth sausage to me – I’ll tell whatsisname” (he hasn’t a great memory for names).
So I didn’t put a word on it. He simply gets click-and-sausage when he clocks the cash. We started in the living room, then took it into the garden, then onto walks in our usual places. I used pounds with my scent on (obviously) and ones bagged and sealed with other people’s scent (otherwise he’s only going to show me pounds with my scent on, duh!). And he’s quite good at it.
I didn’t ask for any fancy method of indication, because I don’t want him to have to put too much effort in (it’s a very small bit of sausage), ( with the odd jackpot handful of course – I used to be a dog trainer), so nodding at it is quite sufficient. If I’m not paying attention it’s my own fault.
So, that’s where we are. Going live. I expect to be rolling in the filthy lucre any day now.
And if Ted can do it, your dog can too. My pleasure, you’re welcome.
Come on, we’re going for a walk. This time next year Ted, we’ll be millionaires.