The Hour of the Dog and the Wolf
Once upon a time, a Dog set off walking in the woods. He had grown tired of having a Master, of having to comply. So he had ran away. As a result, he had no particular social standing, nor any desire to obtain the like. He was very proud; the kind of spirit who never intended to wear the collar of society, even if it meant foregoing the securities of finance and nourishment. He was apt to walk the solitary woods in search of any discovery. As he found himself walking along the beaten track, he came to a fork in the road. One path veered off to the left and another to the right. Being the avid adventurer he was, he desired to go down the path that would lead him to the deepest discovery possible. He didn’t believe he would have time to come back and try the other later and so he sat down in the middle of the path to ascertain which of the two paths to pick. Even within the humble context of a stroll did he believe glory was to be discovered. He looked down one. He looked down the other. He tried to analyse which would be best going on certain parameters; how far down one or the other he could see, which one was more densely populated with foliage, in short, which one provided the biggest opportunity for extending his freedom. Each path was not unlike the other. Both were equally as enticing and ambiguous. As he studied the paths, he noticed what looked like another Dog flit across in the periphery of his vision, far up the path to the right. Taking it as a sign that the right path should be his companion for the extent of his journey, he rose and proceeded to saunter on his way. As he neared the spot where he had seen the other Dog, suddenly a Wolf leapt out from behind the bushes. The Wolf was lean and hungry. Its days of living off the land proved unsuccessful and, despite himself, he was in need. “What are you doing so deep in the woods without a guide? Surely you should be at home by the fireplace receiving strokes and caresses from your Master. Any Wolf would surely be jealous of such a thing.” said the Wolf to the Dog. “I care not for those conventions. Give me the liberty to walk where I will, when I will and I’ll be the happiest of them all.” replied the Dog. “It hasn’t worked out so for me.” declared the Wolf. He continued, “Let me guide you through these woods in exchange for whatever bounty we may hunt. Two hunters are better than one.” The Dog swelled with pride and announced, “I have no need for your help, Wolf. You do not look to me as though you could hunt. Your limbs are weak and your eyes are tired and, while you may know these particular forests, I am intrepid and have my wits. I make my own decisions and am Master of myself.” And off he swaggered. “Your wits may not be what you think they are or you would not turn your back to me, Dog.” muttered the Wolf under his breath, vexed that he should be so rudely put down by one who was clearly full of the sin of pride. “Oh, Dog!” shouted the Wolf. “I would not head down this path if I were you. Only the bravest and the most intrepid have dared. Few have ever managed to find the joy they seek by following it to the end.” “And what is this joy you think I shall find, oh, Wolf?” replied the Dog. “Absolute freedom. Freedom as there is none likewise in this world.” whispered the Wolf. “Then I shall continue. You wish to see me shackled, Wolf, and so, good day.” And with that the Dog turned the corner and was gone. “On the contrary, I wish to liberate you.” hissed the Wolf as he plunged into the foliage and disappeared into the woods. The Dog, intent on liberation, was hurtling down the track hoping to arrive where he should find a sign that told him, ‘Look no further, you have arrived!’ The path, which before had been as clear and unobstructed as any other path in the forest, was getting worse and worse. The ground beneath his paws was less stable, roots and stones threatened to upset his balance at every step. Little by little the foliage began to crowd in on him. The sun began to shrink and disappear before the might of the forest’s trees. Branches were soon grappling at the Dog’s fur, ripping at his tail and trying to gash at his eyes and muzzle. As he became more and more disheveled he began to grow tired and hungry. His powerful haunches began to recede and he felt his eyes droop. “I cannot quit now. I must be seconds away.” the Dog urged to himself. And on he went. With no sunlight there was no way to tell how long he had braved the forest floor. Just as he began to think maybe he had made a mistake in challenging the Wolf in such a proud manner, he heard something ahead of him. He rushed forward to see what it was. He burst out onto a clear and comfortable path where he came muzzle to muzzle with another dog. “Hello.” he said. “Hello.” replied the other dog. Desperate, he said, “I have been travelling for I don’t know how long and would care for a companion if you will have me.” The other dog stared at him and said, “No, thank you. I’m just going home to my Master’s. Besides, I do not in any form consort with wolves.” “I am no wolf!” howled our Dog, outraged that he should be mistaken by one of his own. “You are haggard and lean and scary. You must be a wolf.” replied the dog courteously. “Well then, if I’m to be a wolf, I shall eat you.” Our hero descended upon the poor dog with a fury only a wild and starved beast could understand and devoured him whole. And yet our Dog felt no sustenance. Appalled with what he had done, he wandered aimlessly into the forest in search of a stream from which he intended to wash the gore from his jowls. As he crept from bush to bush he noticed light shining through a patch of particularly dense leaves. He brushed past them and, as he did so, tore a gash in his left ear on an outstretched branch. He howled miserably and ripped the innocent branch from its mother tree and ferociously tore it apart. “What have I become?” he questioned both the Universe and himself. The light was coming from a clearing, in which he now found himself. The sound of a burbling stream was nearby and he turned to look at it. There, at the bank of this crystal blue stream, sat the Wolf. He rose from his hind legs and approached the wretched creature the Dog had become. “And how are you enjoying yourself, Dog?” sneered the Wolf. “Help me. Friend. Take me away.” pleaded the Dog. “Did you not find your freedom?” queried the Wolf in a sinister tone. “No. No! All I found was pain and fear. I’ve had enough now. Please help me brother Wolf.” “Very well.” said the Wolf. “Let me unshackle you.” And with that the Wolf pounced on the wretched Dog and reduced him to a pile of bones in mere seconds. The Dog knew no pain, he knew no fear, he knew no longer the captivity of life that he had so longed to challenge. He had been freed of all.