Today is the Birthday of the Man. I deliver my Birthday Present, Even Before he Wakes.
Hurrah, I say, adding an Enthusiastic Hello.
That Dog has Covered Me in Ectoplasm, says the Man, disappearing into the Shower.
It is his Birthday Slobber, I tell the Owner. I do not Slobber like that on Just Everyone, I say. It took Special Effort, I say. Hours of Preparation, I say. Gratitude is the Proper Response in a Beneficiary, I say. From a Moral Benefactor, I say. Who Produces Quality Slobber, I say.
How can One Dog Produce this Much? Asks the Voice of the Man.
I think the Man is unsure what he should use it for, says the Owner.
It is used for Digesting, I say. Why is he Washing it Off? I ask.
He is Afraid it might Digest Him, says the Owner. It is an Odd Gift, says the Owner.
On the Contrary, I say. Did you not tell the Moral Dog on his Own Birthday that the True Gift of a Beneficiary is the Thought and Effort he puts into giving it? I say. The Production of This Much Slobber took a Great Deal of Thought, I say. Mostly of Cheese, I say.
As an Explanation, it is Positive Genius, says the Owner. As a Practical Gift it lacks Utility. It is possible to Appreciate the Sentiment without Appreciating the Gift, says the Owner.
I Do Not See the Difference, I say.
I am sure the Man Appreciates the Slobber for What It Is, says the Owner, but What It Is is the Problem. It is Slobber, says the Owner.
It is Everywhere, says the Voice of the Man from the Bathroom, This is not Normal Slobber.
Exactly, I say. Born of the Moral Dog, I say. A Man Given a Gift created Specially For Him by his Moral Dog must surely Show Gratitude, I say. Only an Ungrateful Philosopher would say otherwise, I say. Possibly Nietzsche, I say. I suspect he was Not a One for Slobber, I say. Thus Spoke Zarathustra is Difficult to Say with Slobber, I say. If I was the Dog of Such a Man I would have Faded and Pined, I say.
Most Philosophers agree that an Action only deserves Gratitude as long as the Benefit is not the result of a Regrettable Feature of the Beneficiary, says the Owner.
You must be Sepaking Hypothetically, I say. The Moral Dog is Well Aware that to Love the Whole Dog yet Not Love Everything About Him would be an Unresolvable Paradox of the Kind that has led Moral Dogs to Fade Away in Sorrow Over the Ages, I say. Particularly when he Donated so Much of It, I say.
I need more Chemicals in Here, says the Voice of the Man from the Bathroom.
See, I say. It is Quality Stuff, I say.
It is true that Most Philosophers also think Gratitude is due for Exceptional Effort, says the Owner. But Slobber comes easily to the Moral Dog, says the Owner. Is he really so Emotionally Invested in it? Asks the Owner.
Of course, I say. Where would Moral Dogs be without Slobber? I ask. Still chewing on a Dinosaur Bone to Little Avail, I say. Slobber is Part of the Soul of Dogness, I say. Love me, Love my Slobber, I say. Besides, I say, That was Supererogatory Slobber, I say. Even if the Man did not Want it All Now, I say, he could have Saved Some for Later, I say. It will take me Hours to produce the Other Half of his Gift, I say. But I know how the Owner and the Man Adore Me and My Slobber, I say. It Sustains me when Fading Threatens, I say. So I am working on the Second Instalment, I say.
Although there is a Question, says the Owner, as to whether the Gift was given or Forced, says the Owner.
I was Pinned Down, says the Voice of the Man from the Bathroom.
The Man’s battling was Instinctive, I say. He may initially have thought he was being Assaulted by Eels, I say. It is an Easy Mistake to Make, I say. But, Once Awake, the Man spoke of the Slobber in terms of Wonder and Admiration, I say. He said he had Never Seen So Much Slobber, I say. He said he Could Not Believe what I had Done on his Birthday, I say. He said that he had Never Had a Birthday Present Like It, I say. This was a Great Relief to the Moral Dog, I say, who for a brief But Tragic Moment of Battling thought he might have to Pine and Fade, I say. Like a Cast Off Dog, I say. Unwanted, I say. Slobbery, I say. Rejected, I say. Only the thought of How Much the Man is Surely looking forward to the Next Slobber Instalment Saved me from Such Despondency, I say. It is So Good to be Loved, I say. It is Everything, I say.
I see, says the Owner. So the Moral Dog’s Very Soul was in the Slobber, says the Owner.
His Very Being, I say. But do not Fear, I say. If the Slobber is Rejected I will go into the West and Fade, I say. Like Elrond, I say. No Longer Wanted, I say. Or Needed, I say. Or Loved, I say. Let me prepare, I say. i shall Adopt a Noble Expression, I say. To hide the Pain, I say. Then you can Explain to Me the Depth and Breadth of the Rejection, I say.
Argh, says the Owner.
I am Braced, I say. I dealt with Sauron, I say. I can Deal with This, I say. I will Fade Tidily, I say. You can Sweep Away my Sad Remains, I say. I will be Grateful for the Attention, I say. I mention this Now so that you do not have to Pine at my Supposed Ingratitude, I say. Knowing how Painful that is, I say.
Look, says the Owner, of course the Man is Grateful. But he has had enough Slobber for today, says the Owner. I do not want the Man to be Spoiled, says the Owner. And I selfishly Do Not Want my Own Present to Appear too Diminished, says the Owner.
What is Your Present? I ask.
Bicycle Lights, says the Owner, and a Poetry Book, says the Owner. And a pair of those Bicycle Shorts that Catapult the Man up the Hill through Sheer Elastic Force, says the Owner.
Blimey, I say. I bet you wish you had Thought of Slobber, I say. How Lucky for the Man that he is So Loved by his Moral Dog, I say. It means that your Rubbish Presents may Scrape Through Unnoticed, I say.
Perhaps the Moral Dog has been Too Generous, says the Owner.
I had Hoped so, I say. Although, I say, given the lack of Expression of Thanks, I say, I am beginning to have my Doubts, I say. Most Philosophers believe Gratitude requires an Act to Acknowledge a Benefactor’s Gift, I say. Something Other than Running Away, I say. There is debate among Philosophers about exactly what Kinds of Action are sufficient to count as Grateful, I say. There are Several Schools of Thought, I say.
To which School of Thought does the Moral Dog belong? Asks the Owner.
The Isle of Mull Cheddar Philosophical School, I say,
I have never heard of That School, says the Owner.
If you give me a Big Piece I will Keep the Slobber, I say.
Just give him what he Wants, says the Man. Anything, says the Man. All of It, says the Man.
It is Lovely that he is So Grateful.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.