Today is the Moral Dog’s Birthday and he is Presented with a Number of Gifts by his Friends in the Park. The Gifts are Excellent in their Dog-Appropriateness, Sentiment and General Design.
The Owner, Somewhat Doggistly, says she is Exercising what she calls her Reasonable Powers of Veto over Some of the Gifts.
That One, she says, cannot come Home with Us. Bercow will have to Take It Back.
That is my Favourite Gift, I say, you cannot take that one away.
It is a Small Human, says the Owner, Bercow did not have a Right to Give it to you.
He does not Want It, I say. He says it Makes him watch Barney the Purple Dinosaur which gives him Bad Dreams.
I do not care, says the Owner, we are not keeping the Small Human. It is Established in the Common Law that Persons cannot be Property. You Must Give it Back.
Very Well, I say, I will return the Small Human, I say, but can I not keep the Coat? I ask. That can be Property, I say, and it has an Excellent Brontosaurus on the Back.
No, says the Owner. A Coat can be Property, it is True, but it is the Property of the Small Human who Cannot be Property, and you must Give it Back Too.
A Large Human appears and removes the Small Human before I can argue the Point Further. The Small Human attempts to leave me its coat but is Foiled by the Large Human.
Very Well, I say, but what about This Ball? There can surely be no Dispute about the Appropriateness of This Ball?
There surely can, says the Owner, and it is Not Coming Home with us.
I do not see why, I say.
The Moral Dog must think I was Born Yesterday, says the Owner.
Not at all, I say, I realise you were born over Fifty-Nine Years Ago, I say, One Could Hardly Forget, I say, given the Wrinkles, I say.
Then do not attempt to Smuggle Fox Poo past me by rolling it into a Ball, says the Owner.
I do not see why it being Constructed of Fox Poo prevents it from being considered a Ball, I say. Does it not Fly through the Air like a Ball?
That is what I am Afraid of, says the Owner. It is an Established Fact that Balls cannot be made of Fox Poo, says the Owner.
When was it Established that Balls are defined by their Constitution rather than their Inherent Ballness? I ask.
Forever, says the Owner, in the World of Sane People. And you cannot keep That Present Either.
What is wrong with that Present? I ask.
It is Quacking, says the Owner.
Squeaky Cat Squeaks, I say, but you have not Banned Him.
Squeaky Cat’s cooperation does not rely on Lucifer holding him upside down by his Legs, says the Owner. The Moral Dog cannot keep a gift that encroaches on the Freedom of a Fellow Being.
Too right, says the Duck, Flapping away and Taking the Moral Dog’s Gift With It, As It.
At least that leaves me with the Leaf of Solidarity that is the gift of Jeremy the Beagle, I say. I can Float it in the Pond and Swim after it, I say. It is an Excellent Gift of a Leaf, I say.
It is technically only the Use of a Leaf, says Jeremy, rather than entailing Exclusive Possessory Rights in a Prospective Fashion beyond the Immediate Confines of the Pond. Property is after all, Theft.
It seems that the Leaf must stay in the Park.
At least I can take home this Nose Cage, a gift of Lucifer, I say.
Nice Try Mate, says the Voice of Lucifer’s Owner, and it seems that the Nose Cage was also only on Temporary Loan.
Well, says the Owner, you would not have wanted to Wear It. Your Cheese could get Stuck in the Slots.
That is True, I say, although it is the Thought that Counts. Can I at least take this Stick Home? I ask. Starmer has put Great Thought into It.
Theoretically yes, says the Owner, but Practically No.
Why not? I ask.
It is Too Big, says the Owner.
That is rather Sizist, I say.
It is a Tree, says the Owner. With Squirrels in it.
That was the Point, I say.
You cannot have the Squirrels, says the Owner, as if we Attempt to remove the Tree they will Run Away.
I suppose you are going to say that I cannot keep that Chihuahua either? I say.
Mogg is doing a Noble Job of Holding it Down I agree, says the Owner, but it has not Forgiven the Moral Dog for Weeing on it. It may Bite Something Off.
I watch the Chihuahua race off into the Sunset, carrying its Sombrero. Hasta la vista, I say mournfully.
Eres afortunado, todavía tienes tus extremidades, says the Chihuahua, which rather confirms the Owner’s hypothesis.
It seems that my Gifts cannot be taken home, I say. This means that I do not Have any Gifts, I say. On my Birthday, I say.
That, says the Owner, depends on what you consider your Gifts to Be.
I considered the Small Human in a Dinosaur Coat, the Ball of Unusual Construction, the Duck, the Floating Leaf, the Nose Cage, the Tree and the Chihuahua all to be, on first Assessment, my Birthday Gifts, I say.
They were not your Birthday Gifts, says the Owner. Your gifts were the Joy and Generosity with which they were Chosen for you by your Many Friends.
You are Right, I say, in a Slightly Wobbly Voice. The Moral Dog is fortunate to have such Generous Friends, I say Nobly. No Dog could Possible ask for More, I say Bravely
Indeed, says the Owner. Let us now head home.
I have enjoyed my Gifts, I say, hiccupping slightly. For the brief period for which I could enjoy them, I say, blowing my nose. Transiently, I say, clearing my Throat. In the Spirit of what Really Matters, I say, trying to hide the Tears that are Running down the Road.
Do you have Hay fever? Asks the Owner.
It must be Hay Fever I say. It is Another Birthday Gift for the Moral Dog, I say. He is Most Extraordinarily Fortunate, I say.
Is the Moral Dog being possibly a little Humbug? Asks the Owner.
Certainly not, I say, attempting to control my Lower Lip. The Moral Dog is Cogniscent of his Many Blessings, I say. Let us Step into the Darkness of the Lonely, Gift-Free Hall that I may appreciate my Blessings Further, I say.
Hahahaha says the Owner.
SURPRISE! says the Man
And there are Balloons! There are Special Dog Lollies! There is a Plate of Cheese! There are Cards! There is a squeaky Creature of Unknown Evolutionary Provenance! There is Caspar! There is a Birthday Cake! There is a new Superdog Cape! We are all going to watch Beethoven!
The Moral Dog is One Year Old, and he is having a Lovely Birthday after all.
He is not entirely sure how to Stop Sulking without it being Obvious, but he is Working on it.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.