The Owner and the Man and I go for our Daily Walk on the Heath. There are a few Humans about but they Avoid us by stepping off the path in wide circles.
Is it very hard, I ask the Owner, for Humans to avoid Close Contact with Others?
Sometimes, says the Owner, Great Sacrifices are necessary for the Common Good. Although as I have not seen anyone I know today it has not been a Particular Strain. You may recall that, during our prior walks in the Park, I have not Generally spent much time Hugging.
This must make it very hard for Humans to Make Friends of Excellent Quality, I say.
Not at all, says the Owner, I have Many Friends of Excellent Quality. Generally speaking, for Humans, one becomes Friends first, and only then does the Hugging Follow. Hugging is an Affirmative Friendship Ritual developed for our Emotional Well-being.
Moral Dogs do it the other way round, I say. Sniff first, Friends second. That an Affirmative Friendship Ritual developed for our Emotional Well-being.
I know what Moral Dogs do, says the Owner. Humans do not go in for That Sort of Thing.
The Moral Dog has a Vomeronasal Organ of Extraordinary Capability, I say. I am able to determine Friend from Foe by a Single well-targeted Sniff.
Humans prefer to use discourse, enabling the identification of shared interests and moral and ideological values, mutually appealing personality traits, and humour, says the Owner. We find it provides a more Nuanced Analysis than Inspection of the Rear.
I see, I say. And is that why you are not Friends with the Prime Minister or Mr Trump and do not seek to Hug them on a regular basis? I ask.
It is one of several reasons, says the Owner.
It sounds extremely Laborious, I say. My Vomeronasal organ can determine shared interests and moral and ideological values, mutually appealing personality traits, and humour in one single inhalation. If banned from this Essential Social Engagement by a Virus I would almost certainly Pine.
Humans are no different, says the Owner. Whilst I generally limit Hugging to Persons Already Known to Me, there are Those who would extend it to, for example, Idris Elba and the Man from Fleabag, and I might make an exception for Aragorn. And, rather as Moral Dogs would Pine if they cannot Sniff, Humans Pine when we cannot Hug those we wish to Hug.
There will be a lot of Pining with this Virus, then, I say.
Indeed, says the Owner, there is a Great Deal of Pining already. It is a fact of Human Existence that we all require Hugs. We are attempting to compensate with Social Media, and we are not doing a Bad Job. Online Singing with The Sofa Singers makes up for a lot.
I agree, I say, the Moral Dog was particularly proud of his Harmonisation, particularly when all the Spiders fell off the ceiling in appreciation.
Quite, says the Owner, but she looks a little Melancholy. It seems to me that now is one of those moments when a Moral Dog must step up and be counted. The Moral Dog and his Closest Acquaintances could offer Training in Social Sniffing, if that would help, I say. You may consider our Rears at your Disposal.
The Owner swallows. I can tell she is Quite Overcome by the Generosity of the Suggestion. You mean, she says with delicate precision, the Moral Dog is offering Tuition in Sniffing of the Unmentionables of his Friends as an Act of Solidarity? She asks.
Sometimes, I say, Great Sacrifices are necessary, for the Common Good.
That is Extremely Kind of you, says the Owner, I will bear it in mind.
I know she won’t, but one has to offer.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.