I do not want to wear a Collar, I tell the Owner. I do not see many Cats in Collars, I say. Ducks seem to enjoy Complete Freedom on the Collar Front, I say. And what is this Shiny Bit on it? I say. I do not like the way it tinkles, I say. You should take off your Collar Too, I say. You will never Catch a Rabbit wearing that, I say.
The Shiny Bit is a Tag, says the Owner. It has my name on it, says the Owner.
Why does it not have my name on it? I ask. Surely if it is to have anyone’s name on it, it ought to be mine, I say. People may get the wrong end of the stick, I say. Imagine how I would feel if someone called me Mary, I say. It would be Humiliating, I say.
I can imagine, says the Owner. However, says the Owner, Your name is not on it in case you are Stolen, says the Owner. Your Collar is an Indication that I am your Owner, says the Owner.
Are you suggesting you are Actually my Owner? I say.
That is what you Call Me, says the Owner.
I thought it was just your Dog Name, I say. Like calling Caspar Fluffy, or calling the Moral Dog Butch.
Hahaha says the Owner. Nice Try, says the Owner. You can only be called Butch when you stop Running Away from Chihuahuas, says the Owner.
You do not know Chihuahuas, I say. I could be called Killer and I would still Run Away from Chihuahuas, I say. I still cannot be Owned, I say. I have Rights, I say.
For the Purposes of the Law, says the Owner, I am considered an Owner.
It seems to me, I say, that the Law has spoken clearly on this, I say. The 1772 Judgement of the Chief Justice Lord Mansfield in the Landmark Legal Case of Somerset v Stewart determined that thanks to the ancient writ of habeas corpus James Somerset, and any other Moral Person, could not be detained on English soil Against this Will, I say. Moreover, I say, the Slave Trade Act of 1807 determines that a Moral Person cannot be Sold and the Abolition of Slavery Act of 1833 prohibits any remnants of your Colonial Attitude that may have Slipped the Net, I say. That being the case, I say, you cannot possibly be my Owner, I say. And the Law cannot possibly Insist that I wear this Collar, I say. A Moral Dog cannot be Property, I say. A Moral Dog is a Person, I say. With Rights, I say. And Freedoms, I say. And Cheese, I say. And the Potential to Own his own Fridge, I say.
Did you Eat my Book on Abolition? Asked the Owner.
I might have done, I say.
And have you been talking to Jeremy the Beagle? Asks the Owner. Did he By Any Chance suggest that the Proletariat should Revolt and Throw off the Shackles of Oppression? Asks the Owner.
How did you know? I ask.
It was a Lucky Guess, says the Owner.
I would have thought you would have a little more Sympathy, I say. Given that you are Similarly Shackled, I say. By the Necklace of the Man, I say.
Such a Necklace does not signify that One is Owned, says the Owner, it signifies that one is Loved and Chosen to receive the Necklace which is Owned, says the Owner. Likewise, it is only the Collar that is Owned, says the Owner. The Owner bestows the Collar upon the Moral Dog in return for being the Chosen Human to Look After the Moral Dog, says the Owner.
Oh, I say. So you wear your Collar because the Man has the Right to Look after You? I say.
That is the Gist of it, says the Owner. I wear it because the Man gave it to me.
And you are not the Property of the Man? I say.
Certainly not, says the Owner, turning faintly Lilac.
And you would wear it even if it Jangled when you Ran? I say.
Particularly then, says the Owner, since the Jangling is a reminder of the Relationship it Represents.
You still won’t Catch a Rabbit if you don’t take it off, I say.
You won’t catch a Squirrel if you Do, says the Owner.
I might, I say.
You might not, says the Owner, and you won’t have any Excuse.
The Moral Dog will not need an Excuse when he has a Bucketful of Squirrels, I say.
Then I shall remove it at once, says the Owner.
Actually, I say, I will keep it on for now. It is because I rather like the reminder of the Relationship it Represents, I say.
That is Good, says the Owner.
It is not because I am afraid I will not catch the Squirrels, I say. Obviously, I say.
Obviously, says the Owner.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.