I did not like the Man on the Park Bench who said I should be on a Lead, I say.
You have to be Tolerant, says the Owner, he is Afraid.
When you asked him why he thought that, he said it was the Law, I say.
He thought that if he Petted you he would Catch Covid, says the Owner.
He did not look likely to Pet me, I say, he looked rather more likely to Poke me with a Stick. And he was Grumpy to You.
He saw you as a Threat, says the Owner, and he did not like me because I said that the Law does not require you to be on a Lead. You are a Moral Dog and Fully Under Control, other than in the presence of Cheese.
You should wear a badge saying NHS, I say, then he would Clap you Instead.
I do not want to be clapped when I walk past, says the Owner, I just want People to stop being Intolerant of Each Other. It is not a good way to be. And I do not like the Erosion of Civil Liberties by those who seek to Extend the Law into making Demands of us that it Does Not.
I thought you agreed that Everyone should Stay Indoors, I say, except for when they are Exercising, Shopping for Essentials or Being Key Workers. The Man on the Park Bench was not Exercising, Working or Shopping. You should have told him so.
I do not agree, says the Owner, he probably needed a rest. A rest can be part of Exercise. For some people, most of their Exercise needs to be Rest. But they have a right to take it, as long as they do so within the Spirit of the Rules, if it is essential to their Health and Welfare. And that is for them to Judge. Only if their Judgement seems not only Poor, but Detrimental to the Wellbeing of Others, should Others Interfere.
You mean if he was Coughing all over us, I say.
Exactly, says the Owner. Civil Liberties are not to be Treated Lightly. The Requirement to be Socially Responsible should not be Over-interpreted into a Set of Narrowed Behavioural Boundaries that Disadvantage those who Cannot Exercise, Do Not live near an Open Space or Have Children or Moral Dogs.
But what if when the Law says Keeping your Dog under Control it Actually Means he should be on a Lead? I say.
The Law is Clear, says the Owner. It Says what it Means. It does not, yet, confine us to our Homes or our Dogs to Leads. It gives us room to make Judgements and to Exercise Our Freedoms. Moreover a situation where those who can Exercise feel Licensed to display Intolerance of those who Cannot, those with Dogs feel Licensed to be Intolerant of those Without, those with Space and Privilege feel Free to be Intolerant of the Needs of Those Who Do Not, and those Without Children Condemn those who bring a Ball to Exercise with their Children in the Park seems to me a Bad Thing.
You are a Bit of an Anarchist, I say.
I am not, says the Owner, but I want us to come through this thing with our Decency and our Dignity intact, not to Turn On One Another and Self-Destruct. The Law says we must go outside only for what is Essential to our Health and Welfare, not that we cannot Sit Down until we Get Home Again. The Law says we may go outside for Exercise but it does not Dictate what form that Exercise must Take, how long it must last, nor whether it can involve a Game with our Children. We are expected to be Reasonable.
So if the Law said I had to be on a Lead, what would you do? I ask.
I would be Most Upset, says the Owner, but Laws are made in Parliament, and in a Democracy, we must Obey them. If the Law changes and says that I must, for the Good of the Country, put the Moral Dog on a Lead then that is what I will do – but in return I will expect to be given a good reason why. I will not Accept a Change in the Law from a Man on a Park Bench, even though I Known that he is Scared. If I am not given a good reason then at the next Election I will Vote for Someone Else. That is how it Works.
That is all very well, I say, but what can you do about the Intolerant People? I ask.
Hope for Understanding, says the Owner. Hope for a Clear Message from the Government. We cannot possibly guess why another Person is behaving as they are. We do not know how afraid they are. We do not know how Fit they Are. We do not know the Size of the Space in which they Exist. So I do not believe in the Informal Exercise Police. I do not believe in the Informal Dog Police. I do not believe in the Informal Child Police. We all live in Glass Houses and should not Throw Stones.
You are Right, I say.
Thank you, says the Owner.
Of course we really do live in a Glass House, I say.
I was speaking Metaphorically, says the Owner, we have Already had the Punch Line.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.