by Jordan Moffatt
I always knew that my dog Tim the Tool Dog Taylor was a good boy but I had no idea that he was Confucius until one morning when he woke me up, put his paw on my arm and said, “A Gentleman must be strong and resolute, for his burden is heavy and the road is long.”Even though I was still groggy from sleep, I immediately noticed a change in his behaviour. First, there was the calm, measured tones that he was speaking in. Second, there was the fact that he was speaking.
“Huh?” I said.
“The asking of questions is in itself the correct rite,” he replied.
“I don’t understand.”
“To say you know when you know, and to say you do not when you do not, that is knowledge.”
Not getting answers from the source, I opened my computer and Googled My dog just said “to say you know when you know, and to say you do not when you do not, that is knowledge” what’s going on??
The first hit was a website of Confucius quotes. I read a few of them, and noticed that my dog had said some of them. I Wikipedia’d Confucius to learn more about him. It was very clear that he was a man that lived thousands of years ago in China, and not an alive Samoyed in Toronto. But still…
“Are you Confucius?” I asked my dog.
“Claims made immodestly are difficult to live up to.”
I wanted to do more research, but it was already 9:45 am — time for Tim the Tool Dog Taylor’s walk.
We went to the High Park leash free area, our favourite place to go. I didn’t notice any change from how he usually is in the park. My dog was a good boy, though relaxed. A family came up to us and the small young girl of the family asked if she could pet Tim the Tool Dog Taylor, and he obliged. The young girl pet Tim in all the places he liked to be pet in, and he was enjoying himself immensely. He rolled over on his belly and got a nice belly rub.
“Is benevolence really far away?” said Tim. “No sooner do I desire it that it is here.”
“Did your dog just talk?” said the father.
“Yeah he’s been talking like Confucius all morning,” I said.
“That’s incredible!” said the mother.
“Seek to be worthy of appreciation,” said Tim.
“Dad, can we get a dog that talks like Confucius?” said the son.
“No, Kyle,” said the Dad. “I don’t think he’d get along with our cat.”
“Do not accept anyone as a friend who is not as good as you,” said Tim.
“My friend’s dog has a spot that looks like a T-Rex,” said the mother. “She gave the dog its own Instagram account and now they have fifty thousand followers.”
“Wow,” I said.
“You might want to take a look at doing something like that,” she
continued. “Maybe a Vine account.”
“Yeah maybe,” I said, not knowing what Vine was.
The family then walked away, leaving me and Tim the Tool Dog Taylor alone once again.
“What do you think of that idea, Tim? Do you want a Vine account?”
“The Gentleman hates not leaving behind a name when he is gone.”
I took this as a yes, and when we got home I Googled Vine????? then downloaded the app on my phone. I prompted Tim the Tool Dog Taylor with some questions and filmed his answers.
The platform worked really well for this sort of thing, and soon we had a bunch of followers. Some of the comments were really nice. One person said that she and her dog were big big fans. In fact, there were a lot of comments like this. When I told this to Tim, he told me “They are no help to me at all. They are pleased with everything I say.”
After a week, we had 20,000 followers. It was one of those viral things, I
guess. The people from the Marilyn Denis show called me and asked if Tim and I could go on the show. I agreed without hesitation, but I probably should’ve asked Tim the Tool Dog Taylor first. Without my realizing it, there had been some storm clouds brewing. Whenever we would discuss his status as a Vine celebrity, Tim would say things like, “The gentleman is ashamed of words outstripping his deed.” When it came time for us to film a new clip, I would get the camera out and Tim would roll his eyes and say, “Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.” Again, I should’ve seen these storm clouds brewing.
Marilyn and the rest of the staff at the show were very nice and accommodating. They gave me a coffee and provided Tim with some treats. Despite this nice treatment, Tim the Tool Dog Taylor was uncooperative. When the cameras were rolling, he simply sat still, saying nothing. I tried to prompt him to say one of his favourite quotes, but still, silence. Marilyn tried to make a joke out of it, saying that the dog probably had stage fright. I knew this couldn’t be the truth — after all, Tim once told me, “The gentleman is free from fear and worry.”
On the drive home, I asked Tim the question I held back when we were on TV.
“Why didn’t you talk, Tim the Tool Dog Taylor? Why didn’t you say your Confucius lines like usual?”
“The mark of the benevolent man is that he is loathe to speak,” he said.
“So why have you been speaking this whole time then?”
“A subject should serve his ruler by doing his best.”
I finally understood. I had been forcing him to speak to others, when the whole time he was speaking purely for my benefit. He tried to fill me with wisdom, and all I did was exploit it. I apologized profusely to my dog, and he nodded in acknowledgement. From then on, I vowed that I would do my best to him as well. I would listen to what he had to say in order to become a more benevolent gentleman.
I felt the impact immediately. I was living the life of virtue, and it was all thanks to my dog. Not only did I become familiar with his messages, I also took them to heart. A few weeks after we stopped Vining, Tim the Tool Dog Taylor puked all over the carpet. Then he walked over to me, put his paw on my leg and said, “Show leniency to minor offenders.”
I smiled, patted him on the head, and cleaned up the puke without complaining.
Jordan Moffatt is a writer and improviser living in Toronto. His writing has been featured inFeathertale, Typehouse Magazine, Hobo Pancakes, Defenestration Magazine, The Higgs Weldon, and The Big Jewel. He is the co-founder and co-editor of Vandercave Quarterly.