The Owner is well. It is Day 15 since her Covid began. Now we can go for a Walk.
I have been taken for walks by Others but it is not quite the same. There is something about the quality of the Throwing. A Moral Dog walking with a Substitute Owner is a Moral Dog bereft. As we head Out I attempt, in the Fashion of Ancestral Dogs since Time Immemorial, to Tow the Owner to the Park.
Hergest, says the Owner, do not Pull or we will go home. I am a Delicate Flower.
I am attempting Assistance, I say, I realise that you are exhausted by your Recent Virus.
I am, says the Owner. Thankyou for noticing. You will recall I had Covid of the Mild to Moderate Variety. I should therefore be cut a Little Slack. I will take it in the Dog Lead, if you don’t mind.
What is Mild to Moderate Covid? I ask the Owner.
It is Covid which is neither Mild nor Moderate, saws the Owner, but somewhere in between.
I do not think Mild to Moderate is a Thing, I say. One can have Mild Disease or Moderate Disease. Can you not Choose?
It was not Up to Me to Choose, says the Owner. The Virus decided what I should have. That is How it Is.
That is Very Unfair, I say. I had understood that all those who were young and fit, even those who were somewhat stretching the Definition of Young because 58 is very nearly 60, such as Yourself, would be Fine.
It is not that Simple, says the Owner. The Vast Majority of those of my Youthful Years – and, indeed, the Majority of those who are Considerable Older – will be Fine. But a few will not.
But you said you were Extremely Unlikely to be Very Ill, I say. Had the Moral Dog realised that you might have Really been Ill I might not have eaten your Sock.
It was indeed Extremely Unlikely that I would be Very Ill, says the Owner, but when a Huge Number of People take a Very Small Chance, for some of them the Chance will come true. That is how Small Chances work. People believe, as Terry Pratchett observed, that one in a million chances come to pass nine times out of ten.
That is surely Mathematically Ridiculous, I say. Can you and Mr Pratchett not reassure the People that it is Mathematically True that most of them will be well?
Alas the Wonderful Mr Pratchett is no longer with us, says the Owner, but even he would have said that Maths does not have All the Answers. Philosophers refer to the Expectation Value of a Risk. The Expectation value of a Bad Thing is a multiple both of its probability and its severity. Knowing that most people will have very mild disease does not therefore always help. It is rather like the way the Moral Dog felt when Caspar went to the Vets.
I had to Howl, I say. Caspar could have died, I say.
Caspar was having his claws filed, says the Owner. It was very Unlikely. Not even a One in a Million chance.
You mean it is very easy to say that one in a Million is insignificant, I say, until you are the person facing it.
Exactly, says the Owner. From a Philosophical this equates to the Deontological View versus the Utilitarian View. The Utilitarian View is that if the Vast Majority of the Population will be fine we should relax, since most people have nothing to fear. The Deontological View says that we cannot relax if even One of Us is threatened, because all lives are Equally Precious and it is as much a Tragedy that one should die as ten.
So does not this mean that Most People can relax? I ask.
Unfortunately, Most People cannot be sure they are Most People, says the Owner.
That is Also True, I say.
These are Difficult and Sad Times, says the Owner. That is why I must go back to Doctoring, and you must be Occasionally Walked by Substitute Owners for a time.
I wish this need not have happened in my time, I say.
So do I, says the Owner, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given .
You stole that from Gandalf, I say.
There are times, says the Owner, when only stealing from Gandalf will help. Come. Let us go for our walk. I then have work to do.
No, I say, we should go straight home. My Walk can Wait.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.