Where did I come from? I ask.
We have discussed this, says the Owner, the Moral Dog came from an Ancestral Wolf.
But I do not look like an Ancestral Wolf, I say. I have spots, I say.
Indeed, says the Owner, that is because you have evolved through careful breeding into a German Shorthaired Pointer, thanks to careful choice by your Ancestors who wished their progeny to have Short Hair, Spotty Bodies and an incredible Appetite for Ball Chasing.
I see, I say, and Caspar evolved into a Caspar thanks to careful choice by his Ancestors who wished their progeny to have Inner Nobility and outer Fluff? I say.
Exactly, says the Owner.
How would One evolve Fluff? I ask.
I imagine, says the Owner, that One chose a Fluffy parent.
Where did the Fluff come from? I ask. Wolves are not Fluffy, I say.
Wolves themselves Evolved, says the Owner, and although they do not look Fluffy, somewhere inside them was hidden the Potential for Fluff.
How can a Wolf have the Potential for Fluff? I ask.
Somewhere in the Ancestry of Wolves there must have been a Fluffy creature, says the Owner. If one goes back far enough, before there were even Canine creatures, the Ancestor of the Wolf must have included something Fluffy. An Ancestral Rabbit, perhaps.
An Ancestral Rabbit? I say. I have never heard anything so ridiculous, I say. I cannot tell Caspar he is descended from a Rabbit, I say. He would never get over it, I say. I am also not sure what effect this would have on his Superhero Qualities, but I do not mention this.
It is then that the Terrible Thought occurs to me. Does that mean, I ask, and my voice is barely a whisper, that the Moral Dog himself is descended from Rabbits?
Goodness, no, I think all the Rabbit has been eradicated from the Moral Dog’s ancestry, says the Owner reassuringly. The breed characteristics of the German Shorthaired Pointer do not include Fluff.
Thank Goodness for that, I say. I could not continue in my Present Vein if descended from Rabbits, I say. What are the Breed Characteristics of the German Shorthaired Pointer? I ask. I am expecting to be read a list of Qualities that include Nobility of Purpose, Impeccable Judgement, Speed, Stealth, Strength, Wisdom, Total Focus on the Ball, Moral Fortitude, Loyalty, Judgement and an Uncanny Tendency to Superheroism.
Spots, says the Owner somewhat disappointingly. Brown eyes, a Very Waggy Tail, Obsessive Stubbornness and… Oh.
What? I ask.
I do not want to say, says the Owner.
You have to say now, I say, because the things you do not want to say that you do not say are inevitably the most significant.
It is to do with Swimming, says the Owner, cagily.
What is to do with Swimming? I ask. Is it my Grace and Athleticism, Water-Repellent Coat and Natural Courage in the face of Seaweed?
That as well, says the Owner.
And? I say. Spit it out, I say.
Webbed feet, says the Owner.
What? I say.
For swimming, says the Owner.
I look at my feet. I spread my toes. It is unmistakeable. The Wild and Taunting Quacking of this Morning’s Duck flutter cruelly through my Memory. I have webbed feet.
I know what webbed feet are for, I say. And where they come from, I say. Should I start Quacking now or can I practice first? I say.
Look, says the Owner, it does not mean the Moral Dog is Actually descended from Ducks. There are many other more Rational Explanations.
There obviously are not. I am the Moral Duck. There is nothing more to be said.
I am never going to the park again.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.