Tell me again, I say to the Owner.
Tigers, says the Owner. At the Bronx Zoo. Four Tigers and three Lions. They appear to have caught it from a Keeper who had Covid. I believe the Tiger had a cough.
How can this be? I ask. You suggested that the Dogs in Hong Kong who caught the Virus must have Licked their Owner, but Surely the Keeper did not exchange licks with these animals? I say, because the Moral Dog is here to tell you that Tigers who lick their Keepers Do Not Stop There.
No, says the Owner soberly, the Moral Dog is correct. The Lions and Tigers must have caught the Virus without such Intimate Contact. As a general rule one should Never slobber on a Tiger, They Do Not Like It.
Surely a Virus from Bats and that has learned to infect Humans cannot now also have learned to infect Lions and Tigers, I say. It is impossible.
It is not impossible, says the Owner, because it has clearly happened. There must be a possibility that, when the Virus changed in order to live in Persons instead of Bats, the change it made allowed it to live in Other Mammals Too. If the Virus has found a Master Key into the Lungs of Mammals, then it may be able to survive in Many Animals. However the fact that Lions and Tigers have acquired the Virus does not mean that they can pass it amongst themselves, nor that they can Pass it back to Humans. We have to hope not.
But it might, I say.
It is more likely that it does not not, says the Owner. Based on what we know of Viruses that have leaped between Species, it is most likely that Other Animals cannot pass it to each other or back to us, that they are a Dead End for the Virus. But we must find out for certain. Because if the Virus has a Master Key many Animals may acquire it. And if they can pass it back to us then it is here forever.
How many Kinds of Animals might this Involve? I ask.
Look, says the Owner, we must not Jump to Conclusions. It is less than a dozen animals in the whole world so far. And only the Tiger was Actually Ill.
You cannot know that, I say. We are not even testing People for Covid, let alone Lions and Tigers. And what about Giraffes? What about Elephants? What about gorillas?
Indeed, says the Owner, it is essential to understand which Animals this Virus can infect, whether it can spread among them, and whether it can come back to Humans and their Moral Dogs from there. We must find out these things Urgently, before the Virus Spreads Further. And until we know we must wait and be careful, and Keep our Distance from everyone, and try to stop the Spread to Anyone, whether Old or Young, Cat or Dog, Lion, Tiger or even Giraffe.
So when you said we are All of Us in this Together, All of Us may be Rather More of Us than you had Envisaged I say.
It might be, said the Owner. Let us Hope Not. But it is even more essential that we try to Shut this thing Down. For all of our sakes we must Socially Distance. We must Socially Distance because, until we know we are not Dangerous, we must Act as if we Are. Imagine you are a Landmine that explodes at two metres and Behave Accordingly.
A Landmine, I say.
Exactly, says the Owner. Imagine you would Explode if you Came too Close to a Stranger.
I think of the Moral Fox in the Cemetery. I am glad now that I did not chew him. It does not bear Imagining.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.