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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Morality of Deception

This morning our dog got loose from her harness during our morning walk. After several attempts to grab her before she got to busier streets, I reversed my strategy and started walking back toward our house. Katie, a Beagle-Jack Russell, is often craftier than I, so I wondered if this time I could trick her into coming home. She absolutely avoids any attempt to get hold of her -- it's a game she loves to play.

Her smile of joy and discovery at her freedom from leash and harness was obvious. But as I headed home, she bounded back too, keeping just enough distance from me as to escape any grabs I made for her collar. When we reached our house, I headed for the back yard, leaving the wooden gate open. She stopped in the neighbor's yard, watching me. And here's when I began the real deceptions: I went through a litany of names of her favorite people and dog friends among our family, as if I saw them in the back yard, greeting them in a very loud voice. Finally curiosity and excitement got the upper hand and she ran into the yard while I tried to shut the gate before she realized the underhanded ploy. Close, but successful.

I tried to make the best of it for her as she kept looking for all those wonderful people and dog friends. Explaining that they must not be here after all, I praised her extensively for coming home, and we went in where I fixed her breakfast. That was tricky, because the back door was still locked and I had to go out the gate again to the front door, but I was successful. The last time I looked at her, she still seemed a bit miffed at my trick . . .

So was the act of deception immoral, or was I enacting the deceit in order to bring about a greater good? The jury of one, Katie, has not let me know at this point, but because our four-legged companions are more forgiving than we two-leggeds can be, I'm betting on her letting me off the hook this time.

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