There is a Ginger Creature on the other side of our fence.
Isn’t he beautiful, Hergest? Asks the Owner. Do not Bark at him.
A Trickle of Ice runs down my Spine. The Animal is Unsettlingly doglike. What was that? I ask.
What was what? Asks the Owner.
Did you just throw him one of my Bedtime Biscuits? I ask.
I might have done, says the Owner. He is very pretty.
The Animal looks at me though limpid eyes. I don’t see it, I say.
He is a lovely russet colour, say the Owner, with a Bushy Tail and Elegant Ears.
He is Ginger, I say, and he has a stupid tail. It looks like one of those things you clean bottles with.
You are being Gingerist, says the Owner, who regards herself as Ginger, heart and soul, and you are being Tailist, to boot.
I did not realise that Bushiness of the Tail was something to Aspire to, I say. Perhaps, I say, we should visit the Dog Groomer if you Feel Like That about Tails, I say.
The Moral Dog’s tail is perfect, says the Owner, but do you not think his is pretty?
No, I say, he is clearly some kind of Dog Impersonator, I say.
He is a Fox, says the Owner. He cannot help looking a little like you. He was made that way.
Cannot help it? I say. This is like that Film, I say, where the Woman stalked the Other Woman and Behaved Extremely Badly with a Stiletto. And when I hid under the cushion you were Already There.
You are thinking of Single White Female, says the Owner. It was a Very Silly Plot, and I do not think the Fox is a Stalker. He is just Interested in you. Besides I was not hiding under the Cushion. I was just Resting.
He is interested in my Biscuits, I say, and you had your Fingers in your Ears and were saying La La La.
You should show Empathy for a Closely Related Creature, says the Owner. He has a tough life. He probably has Mange. It is a serious condition of Foxes. And I admit that it was a Creepy Film, but he is not a Creepy Fox.
It is fortunate that he cannot give you and I this Mange, I say, he would be Even More Creepy then. What luck that it is only Covid that has recently leapt the Species Barrier.
Actually, says the Owner, you can get the Mange. It did not need to cross the species barrier. It was probably present in Ancestral Dogs.
I knew it, I say. This is what happens when you are Stalked and Impersonated, I say. There is Danger Everywhere. We should stay indoors and meet nobody, and the Fox should be forced to do the Same.
That is what we are doing, says the Owner, but you will not get Mange from the Fox looking at you. Neither will you get it if he Eats your Biscuits. It is not at all Easy for Moral Dogs to Acquire Mange from Foxes. It requires intimate contact.
Do not be so rude, I say.
Such as chasing and chewing the Fox, says the Owner.
Then clearly the Fox should not be allowed out for more than an Hour a Day, I say. The Fox should not be able to come near the Moral Dog, I say. Neither should he be allowed to visit the open spaces where the Moral Dog might wish to go. He should stay where he Belongs. It is His Bad Luck if there are no Open Spaces there. Someone should Take Him Away at Once.
Such Draconian measures are not necessary, says the Owner. The Instinct to require them is born of Fear, not Rationality. We can be outside and the Fox can be outside, as long as we keep our distance. The Fox can even eat a bedtime biscuit without passing mange to the Moral Dog. We do not need to Enforce Rules which go beyond what is necessary, rules which curtail our Liberty not for the sake of Health but for the sake of Curtailment. That is how we become a Police State.
So the Fox and I must coexist a safe distance apart with some kind of Pleasant Mutual Tolerance for the sake of Freedom? I say.
More than that, says the Owner, most important of all, now, is that we show Solidarity. This is true of Persons, of Moral Dogs and of Moral Foxes. We are all in this together now. You and the Moral Fox have far more that Unites you than that Divides you. Despite the Tail.
I had not realised he was a Moral Fox, I say. That does make things a Little Different.
We must always realise that Other Persons are more like us than we think, says the Owner.
So you mean the way to defeat the Mange is to make sure that our Common Enemy Unites us as fellow Moral Creatures, rather than Dividing us as if we, not the Enemy, are the problem? I say.
I could not have put it better myself, says the Owner.
I suppose the Owner is right. It is what Aragorn would have said, after all. Very well, I say. If you wish you may give him another biscuit, I say.
I look at the Moral Fox. The Moral Fox looks at me. It is not a bad tail, in truth.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.