It seems that, like the Moral Dog, the Owner has primeval instincts. When Primeval Man walked the frozen wastes with the Ancestral Dog she had more to face than the Sabre Toothed Cat and the Evil Velociraptor. She also faced the Ancestral Viper.
This explains why the Owner is seized by a series of Primeval Urges of increasing urgency. It begins when we are walking along, enjoying the morning air, chasing pigeons, hunting squirrels, coming to a reasonable compromise regarding fox poo, when she sees a stick, seizes it and hurls it into the middle distance. I realise at once that she is flinging away the Ancestral Viper.
Of course I fetch it. Why wouldn’t I? She may see it as the Ancestral Viper but to me it is quite obviously a Stick. I fetch it and I hang on to it. It’s long, it’s chewy, it’s sticklike, it smells of rotting vegetation with a hint of squirrel wee. I love it. I’m certainly not going to give it back.
The Owner has other ideas. She wants it back, she says. Come on Hergest. I eye her warily and sidle into the bushes. It is my stick now. Besides, it does not make Primeval Sense to ask for it back. Does she want to be eaten by the Primeval Snake?
We’ll see about that, says the Owner, and throws another stick. This one is longer, fatter, soggier, possibly impregnated with essence of pigeon…. I drop the first stick for later retrieval and off I go…
I am definitely keeping this stick.
The Owner and I have a relationship founded on dignity. It is the kind of relationship Immanuel Kant would have approved of, one in which we each respect the other not as means to ends but as ends in ourselves, as Moral Beings with the Capacity for reason. Immanuel Kant would never have a joke at another’s expense, as this would be to use another as a means to an end. This would not be compatible with dignity.
The Moral Dog, therefore, on the basis of the long relationship between Dog and Man and the mutual understanding of Kantian dignity retrieves the next, even bigger stick, and wrestles it into submission.
Give it back, Hergest, says the Owner. Once more I refuse to return it. This is for her Own Good, I explain, and it is entirely sensible to be practising for the day the Owner finds herself confronted with an anaconda. Would she want it back then? The owner says we would only find an anaconda in water, but I eye her reproachfully, reminding her of our recent pond experience in which we were nearly eaten by eels. You never know when you will meet an anaconda, I say. If it were an anaconda then the Moral Dog would not want you to have it back. Imagine.
The Owner giggles nervously, and picks up another stick. This one’s a giant adder, she says, flinging it away. I race to subdue it.
As our walk progresses, she throws green mambas, cobras, rattlesnakes and boa constrictors. By the time we meet Lucifer we are practising for when the Owner is attacked by a giant reticulated python. I grip the python fiercely and greet Lucifer as one hero greets another.
Lucifer rolls over laughing so hard that his nose cage comes off.
Dignity, as I have previously stated, is a subjective quality. There is nothing undignified about a pointer carrying a six foot branch with leaves and a small snail through the park when he is practising for pythons. And no, I am not putting it down just because Lucifer fell over sideways. Dogs that size are naturally unstable. The Owner may think it’s all a big joke at my expense but I am rising above it.
She’ll be grateful when she finds herself attacked by a six foot snake. That’s all I can say.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.