Squeaky Ball has come out of the Washing Machine. I greet him rapturously, as befits a Moral Dog reunited with his Soulmate.
I thought I was your Soulmate, says the Owner.
You are my Soulmate, I say, but so is Squeaky Ball. He is a Mate to a different Part of my Soul.
I am supposed to be Mate to your Whole Soul, says the Owner. I do not see how a Squeaky Ball can possibly fulfil the Moral Function of a Devoted Owner.
I do not See Why Not, I say.
He is round, says the Owner, and Slobbery, and Devoid of even the Limited Range of Facial Expressions available to Squeaky Cat. He used to bear lettering stating ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’ with a glittery P, but he has modified his message to read ‘HY BRDY’.
Love is not love, I say
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
That does not address the issue, says the Owner. I do not mean to suggest that Squeaky Ball’s Merits are reduced by his Obvious Wear and Tear.
I should think not, I say, given your own Obvious Additional Wrinkles.
I was suggesting, says the Owner, that the Merits of your Owner so Greatly Surpassed the Merits of Squeaky Ball as to render him at least Second in the Priority Ranking of Persons who Might be Soulmates to the Moral Dog.
That depends, I say, on what criteria are to be used to Judge a Soulmate.
And what Criteria would the Moral Dog use, says the Owner, in what the Moral Dog considers to be a Slightly Loaded Tone.
Squeakiness, I say, is an essential Characteristic of Soulmates.
I am Frequently Squeaky, says the Owner, although More in Tune than Squeaky Ball.
I will give you that, I say, particularly when you tried to sing that Strange Wailing Lament to the Moral Dog, I say.
That was not a Strange Wailing Lament, says the Owner. That was Happy Birthday, says the Owner. I had a sore throat, says the Owner.
Nevertheless, I say, you seem to tick the Squeakiness Box, I say. I will Give you That, I say. Chewiness, I say, is also Pretty Important.
I am Very Chewed, says the Owner.
You Squeak when you are Chewed, I say.
So does Squeaky Ball, says the Owner.
That is Only Because I have digested parts of Squeaky Ball, I say.
You have not, says the Owner. They came out the Other End of the Moral Dog, says the Owner. We had to take you to the Vet, says the Owner. It was all rather Alarming, says the Owner. Especially the Glittery Bits from the missing P, says the Owner.
That is True I say. If one discounts Willingness to be Digested then you do seem to tick the Chewiness Box, I say. I will Give you That, I say. Slobberiness, I say, is also Essential, I say. Chewy Ball shows excellent Retention of Slobber, I say. He Positively Oozes on Chewing, I say.
Sadly, says the Owner, this is also ticked. The Moral Dog’s Generosity with his Slobber is Positively Legendary.
Okay, I say, I will Grant you that, I say. I agree that I am often Generous on the Slobber front, I say. Squeaky Ball is also A bit Worn Around the Edges, I say.
Well, says the Owner, I suppose I…
Do not worry, I say. I think you Pass on that Too, I say. It is a Close One, I say. Squeaky Ball has gone a rather Funny Shape, I say, but you do not have much of an Edge on That, I say, and you have more Wrinkles, I say.
It sounds as though Squeaky Ball and I are at Level Pegging, says the Owner. How will the Moral Dog decide?
It was a Hard One to Judge, I say, but Squeaky Ball may just scrape through on Availability for Play.
I see, says the Owner. I am Available for Play, says the Owner.
Sometimes you are Not, I say.
Sometimes I am Asleep, says the Owner.
I will Grant you Sleep, I say, since Squeaky Ball also has his Quiet Moments. But there are Other Times Too.
This is about me Refusing to put Squeaky Ball up my Jumper when I am eating My Supper, says the Owner. Isn’t it, says the Owner.
I would not be so Shallow, I say. But it nevertheless appears to give him a Slight Wedge, I say. I will have to consider what Compensatory Factors might Balance out the Owner’s Lack of Availability at All Times to offer a Correcting Wedge.
I think you mean Edge, says the Owner.
Did I say Wedge? I say. I must have been thinking about Cheese, I say. I cannot imagine how that relates to the Current Question, I say.
Some People are so Easily Bought, says the Owner.
It seems it does not stop Some People from being Entirely Prepared to buy Them, I think, but I do not say so. I do not want to Jeopardise the Cheese. Not when it is a Gift from my Soulmate.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.