Last night the Owner and the Man put me in a car and drove me to the End of the World. The Owner says it is an Adventure. Easy for her to say. She wasn’t stuck in the boot for Seven Hours. It is hardly Dignified.
Now the Owner and the Man and I are at the airport. The Sign says this is Land’s End. It is Not Joking. There is Nothing Out There. Three people will be Flying today, says the Official. The Owner, the Man and an Animal. There is no mention of the Moral Dog.
What kind of Betrayal is this? Who is this Animal?
In the Waiting Area the Owner Drinks Tea as if she has just joined the Women’s Institute in 1940 and is not about to abandon the Moral Dog whilst she Swans Off with an Animal. I am given a Perfidious Biscuit and some Token Gestures of Affection.
Then it is Time to Go. I wait for Tears and Tragic Goodbyes but there is not a hint of it. There are just some Small Humans making a Fuss about the Coming Journey, because they are worried that they will fall into the Sea. There is no Acknowledgement that, for some of us, the opportunity to worry about falling into the sea is a Distant Dream.
I decide to sing a Moral Song of Great Mourning. It is a Howling Special. Unfortunately it is ruined when the Small Humans begin to cry that the Dog is Sad because we will Crash. The Owner insists to Them All that I am Happy and singing ‘Good King Wenceslas,’ and they all Join In. There is a whip round in the last verse and I have apparently raised £25.62 for the RNLI.
This is no consolation.
A Man appears and says it is time to Board. Would the Lady with the Happy Singing Animal like to come first? He asks.
There must be Some Mistake, I say to the Owner. Where is the Happy Singing Animal?
I think he means you, she says Cheerfully.
That was not Happy, I say, that was an obvious State of Mourning. And that was not Singing, it was Howling. And I am not an Animal. I am a Moral Dog.
I know that, she says, but the Small Humans do not. It is better not to Actively Mourn during the Safety Briefing when the Worrying is going on. Did you think you were being left behind?
I did not, I say, because it is important to Maintain Dignity. I was Just Testing.
I am to travel after all. But a Nervous Thought assails me. What if the Small Humans are Right and we fall into the Sea? Having not had the opportunity to do the Worrying earlier, I may have to do it now.
Shush, says the Owner, the Small Humans have stopped screaming because they think you are a Happy Singing Animal. Do not talk about falling into the Sea.
But still, what if we fall into the sea? I say. That will not be Dignified.
If we fall into the sea the RNLI come to rescue us and Express their Gratitude for the £25.62, says the Owner. That will be Extremely Dignified.
I can see there is a certain Moral Poetry to this. I climb onto the Flying Machine with the Owner. I am expecting some sort of Special Cushion for Moral Dogs, possibly in Gold with that Fringed Trim that is so Excellent for Chewing.
It is not to be. In the middle is a Box marked Animal. I get a Sinking Kind of Feeling that I know Who is Going In It. There is no Fringed Trim at all. That, I say for the Owner, is for a Happy Singing Animal, not a Moral Dog.
The Moral thing to do is to get in the Box, says the Owner. You must Set an Example. It is Dignified.
I get in the Box, because I am Moral. Nobody else on the plane is in a Box. Can anything be worth the Indignity of putting the Moral Dog in a Box marked Animal?
And then the Flying Machine surges forwards towards the Edge of the World, and as we power towards the cliffs I feel we have taken off! Off the Edge of the World! You are flying, Hergest, sats the Owner, peering at me as if it is Perfectly Normal to have your Moral Dog in a Box. Few other Dogs could have shown the nobility necessary to Allay the Fears of the Small Humans.
I look at the Owner, beaming at me, and I think of the RNLI down below, hoping we will not fall into the sea and celebrating at the £25.62, and at the Small Humans still singing about Good King Wenceslas, and I realise I am Flying, actually Flying.
And the Answer to the question is Yes. Suddenly I do not mind about the Box. I do not mind being called a Happy Singing Animal. The Point about Dignity, I realise, is that it is the Moral Dog’s to Abandon. The True Mark of Dignity is having the Nobility to Let it Go.
The Moral Dog. In a Box marked Animal, but Still Profound.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.