Would you like a Bedtime Biscuit? Asks the Owner.
No thank you, I whisper.
But you always have a bedtime Biscuit, says the Owner. The recipe was created by the late, great Michel Roux. Are you Skulking?
I am not Skulking, I say Extremely Quietly, and my Appreciation of Monsieur Roux is unaltered, but I am not Hungry.
Seriously? That is not at all Like You, says the Owner. You have lost your Bounce. Are you Ill?
No, I say, slightly more Loudly, I am not Ill, I say. I am not even at risk of being Ill, I say. I am so Healthy, I say, that I am surprised that Donald Trump has not already Recommended me to All Americans as the Latest Cure and attempted to Buy me in my Entirety.
Ah, says the Owner.
I am having a Really Nice Time, I say, in an even Louder Slightly Wobbly Voice. A glorious time, I say. I had a Nice Time All Day, I say. Bouncily, I say.
I see, says the Owner.
I do not think that the Owner sees. I had two lovely Walks, I say very loudly. Two walks during which I chased a Ball and Jumped in a Pond, during which I chased a Corgi and was Sucked by a Great Dane, during which I had fresh Air and Good Company, and met Several Other Moral Dogs, and found a rather Attractive Stick with a Leafy end and a Chunky Part and carried it for Hours, and was only Told Off Once. An Injustice I have Already Forgotten, owing to its Trivial Nature compared to the Loveliness of the Day I have had.
It was a Tree Trunk, says the Owner, and you Hit me across the back of the legs with it.
I knew it, I wail. I am a Bad Dog. I did not Deserve to have such a Good Day.
Why do you not Deserve a Good Day? Asks the Owner, you are, after all, a Moral Dog.
There was the Blow with the Stick, I say, and I stole a Ball. And I told that Rude Corgi you were related to the Queen. And I thought Ignoble thoughts about Boris Johnson even though he was Ill.
What were the Ignoble Thoughts? Asks the Owner.
I was upset that he was cared for by Wonderful Nurses who he has decided to charge £625 a year whilst they are working here just to use the NHS themselves, and even to charge their children too, and he laughed and cheered when he voted down their pay rise so I wished he had had Mean and Rude Nurses looking after him instead, except there AREN’T ANY, I roar.
Many would share your Sentiments, says the Owner. It is entirely true that the Fact that the Prime Minister has had COVID does not make him a Better Person.
And I Slobbered in the Freezer when you were trying to put the Bread Away, I say.
I hope you did not, says the Owner. The Man’s Frozen Scones are in there. I made them Myself and Slobber was specifically Listed as an Ingredient to Avoid.
I did, I say, hiccuping Loudly, you will find the Frozen Slobber if you Look Carefully.
Do not tell the Man, says the Owner, or I will tell the Vet he has Free Rein over your Extremities.
It is No More than I Deserve, I wail, hiding my head under a Cushion, my Extremities should be taken for Glueing onto a More Deserving Dog.
The Owner sighs. Hergest, she says, whilst Slobbering in the Fridge is to be Discouraged, I do not think it can be the cause this level of Self Flagellation. What is Really Wrong with the Moral Dog?
Nothing, I say. And that is The Point, I say.
I thought that was it, says the Owner.
All the World is Falling Apart and I am Having a Lovely Time, I Sob.
You are not Doing anything Wrong, says the Owner.
The President of the United States is behaving like a Petulant Toddler and may be Elected again, yet I am still chasing a Ball, I Howl.
There is nothing you can do about the US Elections, says the Owner. You do not have a Vote. I think you are experiencing Survivor Guilt.
What is Survivor Guilt? I ask.
It is a State of Mind that can occur when a Person feels they have Failed by not Suffering as Others have Suffered, says the Owner. I think perhaps the Moral Dog is feeling Bad that, in this time of Crisis, he does not need to Fear this Virus that so many Fear, and instead can Enjoy the Many Benefits of Lockdown without the Constant Low Level Dread which he knows Assails many Humans. The Moral Dog feels that he is not properly able to Share the Pain and so is therefore Not Moral when he enjoys his day. Does that sound about right?
It might do, I say.
It is the Same for all of us, says the Owner. Just as you are Fortunate to be a Moral Dog, I am fortunate to be a Human who has had this Virus Mildly. All around me are those who have not. Some are Doctors like me. I, too, feel Guilty that I Got Off Lightly. I too feel as if I did not, in Some Way, Carry my Share. I, too, feel in some strange and Illogical way that if I had had a Tougher time someone else might have had an easier one.
That is it Exactly, I say. Surely there is no point even Calling Oneself Man’s Best Friend if, just as Man most Needs a Friend, the Moral Dog is too busy Carrying Tree Trunks and Slobbering into the Freezer to Suffer alongside him? Surely it is the Role of the Truly Moral Dogs to Share in the Bad Times as well as the Good?
It is not like that, says the Owner. We rarely get to Share Equally, in good times or bad. But our duty is not to Share, our Duty is to Care. You know what Gandalf said about choosing, do you not?
He said we do not get to choose the times we live in, all we have to decide is what to Do with the Time that is Given Us, I say.
Exactly, says the Owner. Have you ever thought how much Aragorn must have wanted to Share the Danger of Frodo and Sam and take the Ring to Mount Doom? Yet because he also played his Part Sauron was Overcome.
I have always wondered why he didn’t just take it there himself, I say. he could have flown over Mordor on the Back of those Eagles and Completely Avoided all that trouble with the Spider.
Do not Pick Holes in the plot of Lord of the Rings, says the Owner, that is definitely not what you should Do with the Time that is Given You.
But I was Happy, I say, on the Heath when I saw the Yellow Ball. And just for a moment I forgot how many Sirens we can Hear, every hour of every day. I forgot that the Virus is Circling the World and the Prime Minister Laughed when he Cut the Pay of Nurses and the President of the United States is an Overgrown Child Seeking to Blame Everyone but Himself for his Dreadful Management of his Country. I forgot that Everything is So Terrible. How is that the Action of a Caring Moral Dog?
In times of Crisis, says the Owner, we must Focus not only what we are Losing, but on What we Still Have. The World is Facing a Terrible Crisis but it is the Shafts of Sunlight we see through the Gloom that give us the Strength to pull through. When things are Sad it is not wrong to find Small Joys. Indeed it is Essential.
Then why do I feel bad about it? I ask.
You are experiencing a Moral Feeling, says the Owner. The World is like a Giant Connected Mass of People, like a huge Ball Knitted together with Bonds of Kinship. That you are both Sad that the Ball is Injured, but Happy that the Ball is Still There is because you are Part of it Too.
So what you are saying, I say, is that I am both Sad because I am a Moral Dog, and a Moral Dog because I am Sad. And that Both of Those Things are worth being Glad about for the sake of the Future of the World? And that by Continuing to find the Joys that I do I am, in my way, helping the World.
That is Almost Exactly It, says the Owner.
Why Almost Exactly? I ask.
It is alright to feel Bad about Slobbering in the Freezer, says the Owner.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.