Houdini says Caspar has been to the Dog Groomer. He whispers this in the coffee shop as though revealing that Caspar has secretly piloted an Assassination Drone and accidentally hit a school. There is a mass in-drawing of Dog Breath sufficient to slightly disturb the pages of the Times being read by our Owners as we gaze at each other through the chairs.
What is wrong? I ask. Are you not looking forward to complimenting him on his excellent Hairstyling?
He has not had Hairstyling, says Houdini, he has had Topiary. Say nothing when you see him.
What if he asks what I think? I say.
Then you must Lie, says Houdini. It is the Only Way to Spare his Feelings.
Later, as the Owner and I walk to the park to meet Caspar I ask whether it is ever Okay to Tell a Lie.
Well, says the Owner, it depends on whether you believe like Kant that some things are always wrong, or whether like Bentham you believe that the moral justification for an action relates to the Consequences.
So, if your Friend asks your view on his appearance, Should you be Honest? I ask.
Well, says the Owner, Kant would say that the Truth is not yours to conceal. Caspar may be relying upon you for Honesty.
That suggests I should say what I think, I say.
Indeed, says the Owner, but Bentham would say that Kant is wrong because, if a murderer comes seeking your Friend when you are hiding him, it could not possibly be Morally Right to Betray Him. Bentham would say it is your job to Protect your Friend from Consequences.
That suggests that I should not tell him, I say. Although I do not think he will be Murdered just because he has had Hairstyling. This would seem excessive.
It is complicated, being a Moral Dog, says the Owner. Perhaps you should ask Caspar if he prefers Kant or Bentham, then Take It From There.
We round the Corner and I am met by a series of pompoms carrying a stick. I am Dumbstruck. It is a Work of Art. It is Marvellous. It is Caspar.
The Owner avoids my Eye. I hear her engaging Caspar’s Owner in the kind of Conversation Humans Use when they are trying not to ask why they have Taken their Dog for Topiary.
Caspar looks at me from under his Organised Fluff. What do you think? He asks.
Do you prefer Kant or Bentham? I ask.
I knew it says Caspar. I look like a Hedge.
That is true, I say. Although you do at least look like the Better Kind of Hedge, the sort one finds in Hampstead, near the Top of the Hill where the Tudor houses are.
That is some comfort, says Caspar. I am glad to have a Friend who Tells it as it Is.
I have not told it Quite as it is. Caspar looks rather more like the type of hedge you get in Kentish Town, which Does not look Nearly So Good on a Moral Dog, but I can Temper my Kant with Bentham. I am a Moral Dog.
Later the Owner asks me how it went. I explain that, whilst Caspar did indeed look like a Hedge, I suggested that it was the Better Sort of Hedge which seemed to Soften the Blow.
Honesty and Loyalty are Wonderful Things, says the Owner, hugging me. How Fortunate that Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder.
What does that Mean? I ask.
It means that we see those we Love as Special, says the Owner. Even when they have had Topiary.
Is this why the Man says that you are looking Marvellous for Your Age? I ask.
It may be, says the Owner, sounding worried, but does the Moral Dog not Agree that the Owner looks Marvellous for her Age?
Once again the Moral Dog is On the Spot, but I have Learned Well. Do you prefer Kant or Bentham? I ask.
It is clear that the Owner Does not prefer either of them. She has gone for a Lie Down.
It is complicated, being a Moral Dog.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.