There are Some Dogs who don’t share their ball. The Owner says such dogs should all be called Boris. (I say I can’t always tell when she is joking. She says she never jokes about anyone called Boris.) Such dogs carry with them an Aura of Capitalism, the antithesis of the Marxist view that property is theft. It is an aura of privilege, of power, of disdain for the Ordinary Dog. Such dogs guard their Owners, their sticks and their balls as though not only do they not want to share power, they should not have to (the Owner says this is exactly why they should be called Boris).
Other dogs carry an Aura of Fluff. Caspar not only looks fluffy, he is fluffy, when I open my nose to his presence a rather girly (if I may say so) aura of fluffiness surrounds him, somewhat like a large marshmallow. Humans seem to like it. He gets a lot of petting.
Neither of these are Auras of True Dogs. The True Dog is Ancestral Dog. Descended from Dire Wolves, sociable and cooperative, ready to tackle anything, mastodon or sloth, ready to defend the Owner against All Comers, however toothy, however fluffy.
The True Dog wears an aura of compost, wrigglyness and teeth. It is an Aura of Pride, even though it seems to elicit rather less petting than the Aura of Fluff. It is an Aura of Invincibility. It is the Aura of Moral Dog.
The Owner says it is also the Aura of a shark full of wee, which I find very flattering. I hope one day to meet a Shark in the compost.
Today, however, we met something with a different Aura. At first glance it appeared small, furry, and black. It smelled strangely clean, as if it had slipped through the park like a spy in the night, the delightful scents I try so hard to acquire failing to cling to it. But it looked promising – it had four legs, a tail which twitched in what I assumed was a friendly manner, and eyes that smouldered with apparent delight. I raced towards it, friendship emanating from my every pore.
It began to hiss. All of its hairs stood on end. Its tail stood as straight as a lightning rod. And out of the creature appeared the Aura of a huge, sabre-toothed growling thing that appeared to want to consume the whole of me in one single bite. Not even Lucifer with the nose-basket has teeth like that. Then it ran up a tree and sat in it, threatening me with its glowing eyes. Despite myself I realised that my Aura of Invincibility had shrunk.
The Owner hauled me away. This was, she says, the Ancestral Cat or Sabre Toothed Tiger. It hated my Illustrious Ancestor, the Dire Wolf, with a Primeval Hatred that it has Not Forgotten in ten thousand years. She says not even the Proclaimers could keep going that long. She says I should imagine it as like Conservatives and Labour, in the House of Commons, without either the Liberal Democrats or Rory Stewart, and with the heating turned off.
It’s all about the heating. It seems that as the earth froze in the last Ice Age the Ancestral Dog did rather well. We grew in Inner Intellect and Moral Personhood. This is why the Owner offers my Inner Intellect a daily diet of Milton, Bentham and John Stuart Mill, interspersed with perceptive commentary on Jacob Rees Mogg and his 19th century hat, yet my Moral Personhood remains not only entirely capable of battling mastodons and sloths, but sharklike in attitude, and excellently well-supplied with wee. The Ancestral Cat, meanwhile, shrank in the chill to become a small angry ball of ill-feeling and resentment, incapable of appreciating the iambic pentameter and no more capable of catching a sloth than is another sloth. I shouldn’t go near it Hergest, she says. It hasn’t forgiven you for doing so well out of the glaciers.
I feel rather grateful to the glaciers for having modified the Ancestral Cat so effectively (at least from the perspective of the Moral Dog). I give the Ancestral Cat both a disdainful look and a wide berth, and as we head on into the part it spits angrily at evolution. Once I am out of reach I offer a supercilious tail-wag to remind it who did best out of falling sea temperatures.
The Owner tells me the Sensible dog never gloats at his enemy when they are down. She says now that we have Global Warming who knows what will happen to the relative positions of the Ancestral Cat and the Moral Dog, and I shouldn’t sit too securely on my laurels. Imagine, she says, if after ten thousand years of resentment the Ancestral Cat turns back into a Tiger. She says it would be just as if Boris loses the next election and Rory Stewart becomes leader of the Conservative party. Deselection, she says.
I do not want to be Deselected in favour of the Ancestral Cat. Greta Thunberg is right. The Owner should stop using the car at once.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.