The Owner goes into the bakery and she ties me to a Dog Device on the wall outside. Shackles me. Like a common criminal. She used to carry me in there. Long ago, when dignity still mattered.
I cannot believe it. Is that any way to treat the Moral Dog? Kant said Moral Beings should never be Means to Ends, they should only be Ends in themselves. She has used me as a mere component in a reef knot.
I attempt to untie myself by climbing over the loop and then back again under it but this only makes it considerably worse. I duck under one loop and over another as passing poodles offer me their tips. I progress through various Fisherman’s knots, via a Half Hitch and a Double Stevedore to a Flemish bend combined with a Rigid Double Splayed Loop in the Bight. My left leg is in the Bight at this point, and I cannot move my head. I sense a pigeon sniggering and attempt further modifications. It does not go well. The Dignity of the Moral Dog is compromised.
By the time the Owner emerges, the Knot is beyond description. The Moral Dog resembles one of those unfortunate chickens in the butcher’s window. I gaze at her in silent accusation from under my left knee.
Good Lord Hergest, she says, how on earth did you manage that? I was only gone two minutes.
This is what happens when you make your dog into a reef knot, I say. My words are rather muffled.
It was a reef knot, she says in some admiration, but you, Hergest, have created a Gordian knot, a legendary knot of Phrygian Gordium, a knot of fiendish complexity associated with Alexander the Great. Please allow me a photograph.
This sounds like an achievement that a mere poodle would not have managed, but I refuse to be pacified whilst my leg is double bighted. That’s all very well, I say, but how are you going to get me out of it? I am well aware of the phrase, ‘cutting the Gordian knot’ but I would like to end the day with all the parts I started out with so do not want to see scissors brought into the equation.
Aha, she says, sliding the lead over my head, the Gordian Knot of it she will unloose, Familiar as her garter. There you go. Henry V couldn’t have got you out faster. Cheese scone? I bought two.
I say quoting Shakespeare doesn’t excuse anything – she only got me out of a knot that she put me into in the first place. This isn’t exactly Agincourt and she’s not exactly Henry V. I was laughed at by pigeons.
She sighs. Would I like a scone or would I like to sulk?
I say I would prefer to do both.
Fine, she says.
My scone does not taste so good in a sulk. If I stop sulking this implies that I have been bribed with cheese. If I keep sulking I may have indigestion by lunchtime. It strikes me that being in a sulk is also like a Gordian knot, but one that is rather harder to get out of with dignity.
It was a good knot, though, says the Owner, appearing not to notice. Few Moral Dogs could manage a knot like that.
It is a peace offering. The Moral Dog can respond in kind with dignity and go once more unto the breach. I’m glad you think so, I say with King-like modesty.
The sulk dissipates knottishly, and the scone tastes explicably better.
I’m glad we’ve got that sorted out, says the Owner.
The Moral Dog. Able to both make and dissolve Gordian knots almost effortlessly.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.