Something Amazing has happened to Squeaky Cat. As the New Year dawned he Appeared in Splendour, back to his Original Orange, with both of his ears and all of his tail. Even the piece of his bottom which he unaccountably mislaid last week is restored to him.
I am thrilled. Look, I say to the Owner. Squeaky Cat has been Resurrected. It is a Miracle.
Not Exactly, says the Owner, looking Uncomfortable.
Perhaps we need to Start a Religion, I say.
That is Not a Good Idea, says the Owner. Dogs do not Start Religions.
Why not? I ask. Humans seem to have started several.
That is the Problem, says Owner. They Cannot Agree which is the Right One. This has generated a Significant Number of Wars and lots of other Very Unpleasant Activity.
Perhaps that is because the Squeaky Cat Religion is the Right One, I say. What I have in Mind is a Better Religion than all the Others, with a Single Deity of Proven Quality on whom we can All Agree, and no Need for Fighting At All.
That’s What They All Say, says the Owner.
Then how should we Recognise the Miracle that is the Resurrected Squeaky Cat? I ask the Owner.
The Owner’s reply is rather muffled, but I think I hear the word ebay mentioned.
A terrible suspicion consumes me. Could the New Squeaky Cat be an Impostor? A Distressing Memory returns. Something to do with the Owner and the Vet and the Mystery of Something Orange that the Vet said had Passed Entirely Through the Moral Dog. At the time I had no idea what it could be but now….. The Vet said he was going to Keep it for his Interesting Specimens Shelf. How can Squeaky Cat be whole if part of him is in a jar at the Vet’s?
Wha is ebay? I ask the Owner.
It is a Place of Shoes, says the Owner quickly. Too Quickly.
Is it Only for Shoes? I ask, or can one obtain Other Things from ebay?
What Kind of Other Things? Asks the Owner.
Things which are Cat Like, I say, attempting to Trap Her with my Clever Words. Things that Squeak.
The Owner sees through my Ploy. There are no Squeaky Cats on ebay, she says. Not Now, she adds.
I pin her with my Gimlet Gaze. The Moral Dog demands Total Honesty, I say. Has Squeaky Cat been reborn or is this an Impostor?
It is not an Impostor, says the Owner. Squeaky Cat came from a Large Family.
So this is Squeaky Cat’s Brother? I say.
Yes, says the Owner. This is Squeaky Cat Mark II. He has been in the Drawer for Some Time as Squeaky Cat’s Understudy.
This is Wonderful, I say, and I am delighted to meet him, but there is a more Pressing Question. Where is Squeaky Cat?
He is Fine, says the Owner, Squeaky Cat is in a Better Place.
He had better not be in the Bin, I say.
The Owner sighs. Squeaky Cat is Resting after a Long Chewing she says. He would not want you to Miss Him.
Look, I say, it does not matter whether he wants me to Miss Him or not, I am a Moral Dog and will Love Him Forever. Imagine if a Moral Dog forgot his Owner every time a New Owner Turned Up. Where would we be then?
You are Totally Right, says the Owner, Love does not End when we Become a Little Tattered. I will show you where Squeaky Cat is Resting. She takes me to the Cellar and opens a Drawer. In there, alongside some Old Photographs and a Whole Lot of Seashells, looking rather like a Well Chewed Sloth with no ears and no tail and a Chunk missing from his Bottom is my Old Friend Squeaky Cat. I would not throw away such a Faithful Friend, she says. He is My Friend Too.
This is Good News Indeed. However, as I settle down to play with Squeaky Cat Mark II, a further terrible thought consumes me.
Why are you Howling? Ask the Owner.
I do not want to go to live in the Drawer when I Retire, I say. Not even when my Ears Fall off and Parts of me are Looking Generally Rather Chewed. Moral Dogs do not want to Retire to Rest in Drawers, they want to Remain with their Owners.
The Owner shakes her Head. Do not worry, she says. The Moral Dog is not like Squeaky Cat. He can never be replaced and will not be Put in a Drawer to Retire. The Moral Dog is for Life, not just for Christmas.
Even if his Ears Fall Off and some of his Parts begin to look Rather Chewed? I ask.
Especially then, says the Owner. That is how it is with Moral Dogs. I rather hope it may also be how it is with Owners.
Of course it, I say. Although you do not look Too Badly Chewed at the Moment, I add. I barely even notice the Wrinkles.
That is Wonderful, says the Owner in a slightly Emotional tone, inspecting herself in the Mirror.
You are Welcome, I say. I am Glad We Have That Sorted Out.
The Owner does not reply. She seems to be putting Face Cream on.
The Moral Dog, Reassuring Affection for Owners and Squeaky Cats, However Old and Chewed.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.