What is Love? I ask the Owner.
That, says the Owner, depends on what the Moral Dog means by Love. I shall ask some illustrative Questions, says the Owner. The Moral Dog must Answer from the Heart, says the Owner.
The Moral Dog always Answers from the Heart, I say.
Does the Moral Dog love Cheese? Asks the Owner.
Does the Sun Rise in the Morning? I ask. Do Ducks Quack? I ask. Do Ladies in Pink Trousers Gather in the Park in Throngs? I ask. Cheese, I say, is Fundamental to the Moral Dog’s enjoyment of a Happy Diet, I say.
Understood, says the Owner. Now, says the Owner, does the Moral Dog love Chasing his Favourite Ball, Mildred?
The Owner cannot possibly have Forgotten the Answer to that, I say. It is the East and Mildred is the Sun, I say. The Moral Dog was Born for Mildred, I say. No Walk would be Complete without Mildred, I say. The Day that the Moral Dog thought that Mildred was Lost in a Bush then she returned home without us and Hid in a Box after Changing Colour was one of the Most Challenging Days of the Moral Dog’s Life, I say.
That is Excellent to Know, says the Owner. Is the Moral Dog ready for the next Question? Asks the Owner.
I am prepared, I say.
Does the Moral Dog love Squeaky Cat? Asks the Owner.
Oh Squeaky Cat, I say. My constant faithful companion who is now Forever in my Memory owing to his Accidental Disembowellings and Multiple Amputations, I say. What Greater Love hath Any Friend for the Moral Dog? I say. I will Miss Him for Ever, I say.
Quite, says the Owner. Brace Yourself for the Final Question, says the Owner.
I am Braced, I say.
Does the Moral Dog, asks the Owner after a Pinteresque Pause, love the Owner?
Is that a Trick Question? I asy.
It is a Question designed to Illustrate a Point which requires an Answer from the Heart, says the Owner.
Of Course the Moral Dog Loves the Owner, I say. That is Fundamental to his State of Moralness, I say. The Moral Dog’s Adoration is as Intense and Permanent as his Soul, I say.
The Moral Dog must Now Consider, says the Owner, what he meant by Love in each of those Four Cases.
The Moral Dog’s Devotion to Cheese and Mildred is Exceeded only by is Devotion to Squeaky Cat and to the Owner, I say. And to the Man, I say, as the Man has a Particular Rapport with Mildred and also has Access to Cheese, I say.
Let us First Consider the Love for Cheese, says the Owner. I would suggest that in this case Love means that the Moral Dog likes it very much, says the Owner, but in a world without Cheese the Moral Dog would find Other more Iced and Fruity Routes to Digestive Pleasure, says the Owner.
You are Right, I say, as long as there are Lollies, I say. Mango Ones, I say. I believe there are currently Four and a Half in the Freezer, I say.
Regarding Mildred, says the Owner, the Moral Dog’s Love rather concerns what it is about Mildred that makes his Life worth Living, rather than what it is about Mildred herself. The Moral Dog therefore might just as well say that he values Mildred for the Pleasure she Brings.
That is True, I say. Mildred only reaches her True Potential when Thrown, I say. She is Particularly Adorable when Floating in the Pond, I say.
Exactly, says the Owner. By contrast, the Moral Dog’s adoration for Squeaky Cat seems to indicate a mode of concern that exceeds those for Cheese and Mildred.
Squeaky Cat was the Moral Dog’s Friend, I say, somewhat Woefully.
Although, says the Owner, leadingly.
Although the Moral Dog acknowledges that he Ate Squeaky Cat, I say. Our Relationship was Based on Chewing, I say. What can I say, I say, inadvertently saying it. Squeaky Cat was, by his Nature, Chewy, I say. He was all Fluff and Squeaker, I say. He did not Go In for Souls, I say.
The Moral Dog’s Love for Squeaky Cat might therefore be understood as a kind of Proxy form of Love for that the Moral Dog feels for Persons, says the Owner. The kind of Love that a Moral Dog feels for his Owner is a matter of caring about a Person as the Person they are, for their Sake. It is like the Love the Owner feels for the Man, says the Owner. It is Focussed Outside the Self, says the Owner. Devoid of Squeakers and Fluff, says the Owner. Most Philosophical accounts of Love consider the Latter to be what is Truly meant by Love, says the Owner.
So, I say, One could say that Love is a Response to a Person’s Inner Self, I say.
That is Exactly Right, says the Owner. I am So Glad the Moral Dog has been Listening, says the Owner.
The Moral Dog has Listened Intently, I say. So in Fact, I say, the Inner Self is, in a sense the Focus of Love, I say.
That is Right, says the Owner.
And the Outer Shell is Irrelevant, I say.
Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, says the Owner.
So when the One that is Loved becomes Wrinkled and Ancient they are Still Loved, I say.
Even More So, says the Owner.
That is Fortunate for the Owner, I say.
Hahaha, says the Owner, somewhat sorrowfully.
It is a shame that the Moral Dog is not Loved in this way, I say.
The Moral Dog is Positively Adored, says the Owner, as Evidenced by the Supply of Cheese, of Mildreds and of a Series of Cousins of Squeaky Cat designed to Compensate for his Tragic Loss.
As you have just said yourself, I say, those things are not representative of Love but merely of Liking Very Much, Valuing and Proxying, I say. None of them can Possibly Indicate Love in the Face of the Discovery that the Owner does not love a Moral Dog when he is Outwardly Changed.
Is this about…? Says the Owner.
Obviously, I say.
I cannot believe that the Moral Dog has Initiated this Entire Conversation about Love purely because he is not Allowed onto the Bed after Rolling in Fox Poo, says the Owner.
I do not see why not.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.