The Owner stomps into the kitchen ahead of me and turns on the news. I thought you were a Moral Dog, she says. The Prime Minister appears on her screen and she adds, at least he never pretends to be Moral.
I do not pretend, I say, I am a Moral Dog. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a Moral Dog cannot be expected to be Moral All of the Time.
The Owner says she may be prepared to concede that there is some truth in this, but whether or not being a Bad Dog defines the Moral Dog as No Longer Moral is a matter of How Bad he has been. She says one should regard increasing Badness as taking a Dog an increasingly great distance from the status of Moral.
I ask how far the Prime Minister has, in her view, travelled?
She says that the Prime Minister is so far from being a Moral Dog that it is impossible to know where to start.
That is because he is not a Dog, I say wisely.
It is also because he is not Moral, says the Owner. However, she adds, it is not clear to her that he ever was.
I decide to continue my tangential line of questioning, so that she will not realise what really concerns me. If the Prime Minister were already established as Moral, I say, precisely what level of Not Being Moral would remove his Moral Status?
Oh I don’t know, she says. It would probably involve making a series of Moral Choices in an Obviously Not Moral Manner. She gives me a piercing look. I am glad she thinks we are still talking about the Prime Minister. He can act as a sponge for her negative feelings.
You mean like proroguing Parliament and telling fibs and hiding from the BBC and not being entirely sure how many children you have and accusing the opposition of things they have not done all at once? I ask.
I think those are exactly the kinds of things, she says. I sense her negative feelings descending upon the Prime Minister very helpfully.
So, I say, because although I am pursuing my question through metaphor the Moral Dog also needs clarity. One Single Act that is not very Moral, such as reluctance to leave the Park when the Pond is calling would not threaten the Moral Dog’s Acknowledged Moral Status?
It would not, she says. However running off in the park, then refusing to come back, then making eye contact with the Owner but Pretending to be struggling to hear, then running off again, then jumping up at Another Owner, then pretending not to hear again, then sidling away, then running off, then pretending to have no ears at all, then having to be put on the lead and extracted from the Park, then wagging the tail and pretending that is all Just One Thing just might threaten it.
Things are still not completely clear. Who gets to decide, I ask, if the Moral Dog’s somewhat delayed return to the Owner is Just One Moral Act or many?
The Owner raises a single eyebrow. Guess, she says.
I decide it might be better to say nothing for a while.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.