Come here Hergest, says the Owner, I have something for you.
I rush to her Side. I am a Moral Dog. This is what Moral Dogs do. The Pavlovian Conditioning which the Owner once employed, in those Sunny Cheese-filled days of memory, may have once had something to do with it, but these days the Moral Dog attends the Owner’s side because he is Faithful, Honest and True. It is a shame that the same Cannot be Said for the Owner.
Ouch ouch ouch help help help! I shout.
You are being Silly, says the Owner. Keep still.
Et tu, Brute! Then fall, Caesar! I cry.
You are not Julius Caesar, and I am not Murdering you, says the Owner, you are a Dog with sore eyes and I am applying Drops.
It is Betrayal, I say. Like Caesar I was tempted into the Forum, but like Caesar I now cry betrayal owing to not having previously realised that my Owner is a Weasel. Help help help! I am being Oppressed!
I am not a Weasel, says the Owner, I am a Doctor. If I was a Weasel I would not be able to keep you Wedged between my Knees whilst I take the Lid Off your Eye Drops.
You used Weasel Words, I say, Ouch, I say, Ouch Ouch Ouch Help Help Help!
They were not Weasel Words, says the Owner. I said I had something for you and I did. It was Eye Drops. Stop Wriggling, it is for your Own Good.
It is a Truth Universally Acknowledged, I say, that when a Moral Dog hears such words of Invitation from a Moral Owner, a certain Expectation is Created. Cheese might be Amongst the Many Delightful Possibilities that a Moral Dog might Reasonably Consider, even given the Unfortunate Collusion between the Owner and the Vet regarding the Moral Dog’s Allegedly Sensitive Digestion. Biscuits are Another of the More Likely Imaginings. Even a bowl of Iced Water with a Slice of Lemon, as the Moral Dog likes it, served with a Meagre Morsel of the Owner’s Ice Lolly to Follow would Constitute a Reasonable Discharging of the Responsibilities Assumed by the Promise delivered in such Honeyed Words. But this? This? This?
Have you Quite Finished? Asks the Owner.
No, I say, I have a Great Deal More to Say, I say, I am just preparing it.
Go on, says the Owner.
Great Speeches take Time, I say, and my Brain Cannot Work in your Vice Like Grip.
You are Simply Stalling on the Eye Drops, says the Owner, and your Brain is not in your Bottom.
That is because I do not think you should be putting things in my eyes, I say. The Moral Dog has a Right not to be Tortured by his Owner.
I am not Torturing you, says the Owner, I am acting in your Best Interests.
Ouch, I say, ouch ouch ouch help help help!
Stop wriggling like a Slippery Eel, says the Owner. Keep still.
I can hardly do otherwise, I say, given that you are now Sitting on Me. It may have skipped your attention but I am not a Pony, and you are not Exactly a Sylph. Ouch ouch ouch help help help… What was that for?
What was what for? Asks the Owner.
You poked me with your sharp knees, I say.
It is highly improbable that I have Sharp Knees with which to Poke You, says the Owner, given that I am in your words not exactly a Sylph.
You are Gripping my Head, I say, this is like Marathon Man. Help help help! Oppression oppression!
What is going on? Asks the Man. I am attempting to Participate in a Work Related Videoconference here and Several of my Team are Threatening to call Dogline.
The Moral Dog does not want his Eye Drops, says the Owner. He says he is being Tortured and Oppressed. He is being a Big Slippery Eely Twit.
It is Agony, I howl, it is Treachery. Ouch ouch ouch help help help!
How many drops have you put in so far? Asks the Man.
None, says the Owner.
Look, says the Man, we can easily Resolve this. The Moral Dog should have a Choice in the Matter, and is Old Enough to Face up to the Consequences of his Own Actions.
I do not like the Sound of that, I say, that is what they said to Houdini when he Jumped into the Birthday Cake. He was unable to leave until all the Children had Licked Him.
I am Talking about Free Will, says the Man. The Point about Free Will is that Moral Dogs with the Capacity to Make Decisions for Themselves should not be Coerced into Treatment, not even in their Best Interests. The Moral Dog is Free to Choose whether to have the Eye Drops and Healthy Eyes, or no Eye Drops and Sore Eyes.
My Point Exactly, I say. I enjoy having Sore Eyes. It is part of Life’s Rich Tapestry.
The Owner climbs off me. Fine, she says. Have Sore Eyes, she says. Not Exactly Sylph-Like, she says.
That is Better, I say. You are looking more Sylph-like from this Angle, I say. It is always more difficult to tell when one is being Oppressed.
This way we are all Happy, says the Man.
I do not see How, says the Owner, putting the lid back on the Eye Drops.
I am Happy, I say. Only Cheese would Improve Matters, I say.
Dream On, says the Owner.
Indeed, says the Man, the Moral Dog can enjoy his sore Eyes as he so Obviously does. I am sure as they progress into the Festering Stage he will enjoy them even more.
I absolutely will, I say, but my voice wobbles slightly. I am looking forward to the Festering, I say.
And we, meanwhile, says the Man, will be looking forward to the Cheese.
What do you mean? I ask. Why will you be looking forward to the Cheese? I ask.
Did the Owner not mention, says the Man, that each Eye Drop has to be taken with a Slice of Cheese?
No, I say. She did not.
Indeed, says the Owner, in these Covid-Challenged Times we struggled to Scrape together Sufficient Cheese for the Treatment. We searched Long and Hard. We had just Managed a few Meagre slices, with a Couple to Spare.
That was a fairly significant thing not to mention, I say.
We did not want the Moral Dog to feel Bad about it, says the Owner, but it was Abundantly Clear that the Eyes of the Moral Dog were worth the Sacrifice. We had not realised that he would welcome the Festering and the opportunity to pass his Delightful Condition on to Squeaky Cat.
Would my Sore eyes pass to Squeaky Cat? I ask.
Quite possibly, says the Owner, although of course Squeaky Cat would not Complain. His Loyalty is Without Question.
I am overwhelmed by the thought of the Loyal Squeaky Cat and the Sacrificial Owners. And, to a Very Minor Extent, the Cheese. How many Eye Drops do I have to have? I ask.
Why do you ask? Asks the Owner.
I could bear it Nobly, I say. For the sake of Squeaky Cat, I say.
You only need one drop in Each Eye, says the Owner.
And each drop requires one slice of Cheese, says the Man. But we would not want to Oppress You. My Colleagues are Poised to phone Dogline as we Speak.
Hello, says the Disembodied Voice of a Colleague. I am Poised.
You can Stand Down the Nice People on your Teleconference, I say. I will Go Voluntarily for the Treatment.
That is Excellent News, says the Owner. We could put the One Drop in Each Eye which is the Bare Minimum. Although we possibly have enough Cheese for the Full Dose.
Indeed I have heard that Two Drops in Each Eye is Rather More Effective, says the man in the Teleconference.
You keep out of it, says the Man, this is our Last Cheese.
The Drops were Agony, of course, but the Cheese was Excellent. I am so Glad the Owner and the Man recognise my Right to make decisions for myself, even when they are not in my Best Interests, and even more glad that the Man’s Colleagues are so Alert to both the Possibility of Oppression and the necessary Dosage of Eye Drops for Optimal Effect.
I do not know what they are High Fiving About.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.