Every morning I have a little chat with our night-watchman about the night that has just passed. Often a major part of their account is the various things that our dog, Buddy, had barked at. One morning last week, both night-watchmen excitedly began explaining to me that Buddy had been barking at a ‘fork’. A fork? I expressed my doubt over Buddy’s barking at a fork and began to say the word out loud repeatedly, letting it roll around in my mouth so I could discern which other English word they must be mispronouncing.
No, it was a ‘fork’, they insisted. So, I told them to write the word in the dirt. One night-watchman scrawled in the dust: F-O-R-K. Yep, that’s ‘fork’. I told them I think you mean ‘fox’, and I wrote F-O-X. Then the light came on. Yes, it was a ‘fox’ Buddy had been barking at. What a relief. I would have had a hard time picturing our intrepid guard-dog getting riled up over a piece of tableware inadvertently caught in our chain-link fence. I knew he was a good guard-dog, but barking at forks would have been cause for some concern.