Dog

Author

Kai Tuomi

Illustrator

Jiggs Snaddon-wood

When the world was young, Dog was a wild thing. He spent his days wandering the land alone. At night he lay his head on his fuzzy paws and kept guard over his cave. Nobantu, the first woman, lived in a small hut near Dog’s cave. One evening as she walked home, Nobantu saw Dog with his head on his fuzzy paws, sleeping with one eye open, and she felt sorry for him.

“I wonder what I can do to help Dog?” she thought. “He looks so lonely.” As Nobantu thought about a plan, Dog woke up and barked at her. “Dog,” she called out, “you are an excellent guard.” “Yes,” Dog growled, “I’m the best guard in the whole bushveld. My ears are so good that I can hear the smallest noise, my eyes can see in the dark, and I always sleep with one eye open.” “Amazing,” said Nobantu. “Could you please teach me how to be a good guard? Come to my hut tomorrow at sunset. If you do, I’ll give you a hot meal to eat.”

 

Dog had never eaten a hot meal before, but it sounded good. At sunset the following day, Dog came wandering through the bushveld towards Nobantu’s hut. He greeted her and growled, “Now you must watch what I do. I’ll teach you how to be a good guard.” Then Dog lay down outside Nobantu’s hut, with his head on his fuzzy paws. He fell asleep with one eye open. That night he chased away a few wild animals. In the morning Nobantu brought him a hot meal in an old tin bowl.

 

“Here you go,” said Nobantu. Dog gobbled up the meal.

“Did I teach you how to be a good guard?” he barked.

“I think I’ve nearly got it,” answered Nobantu with a smile, “but maybe you could show me again tonight. If you do, I’ll give you a hot meal AND I’ll make a little bed for you to sleep on.” Dog licked his lips. The hot meal had been delicious, and he’d never slept on a little bed before.

 

At sunset, Dog came wandering through the bushveld towards Nobantu’s hut. Just as she had promised, there was a little bed waiting for him. It was soft and comfortable – much more comfortable than a cave floor – and Dog fell asleep immediately with one eye open. That night he chased away a few wild animals. In the morning Nobantu brought him a hot meal in an old tin bowl.

 

“Here you go,” said Nobantu. Dog gobbled up the meal.

“Did I teach you how to be a good guard?” he barked.

“I think I’ve nearly got it,” answered Nobantu with a smile, “but maybe you could show me again tonight. If you do, I’ll give you a hot meal, you can sleep on the little bed again, AND I’ll scratch your back.” Dog licked his lips. The hot meal had been delicious, and the little bed was comfortable – much more comfortable than a cave floor – and he’d never had anyone scratch his back before.

 

At sunset, Dog came wandering through the bushveld towards Nobantu’s hut. He lay down on the little bed. Nobantu sat next to him and scratched his back. What a wonderful feeling! Dog barked with happiness, then fell asleep on the little bed with one eye open. That night he chased away a few wild animals. In the morning Nobantu brought him a hot meal in an old tin bowl. Dog gobbled up the meal. “You know, Nobantu,” Dog barked, “for three nights in a row I’ve tried my best to teach you how to be a good guard, but you don’t seem to get it at all. I don’t think you’ll ever learn how to do it.”

 

“I won’t?” asked Nobantu with a smile. “No, I don’t think so,” answered Dog. “The problem is that you sleep inside, your ears are too small, and you can’t see in the dark. So, I have a better idea. Instead of me teaching YOU how to be a good guard, I could just guard your hut for you. In return you can feed me, give me a bed to sleep on and scratch my back.” “And what about playing?” asked Nobantu. “Playing?” frowned Dog. Nobantu showed Dog how to play with a stick. It was wonderful!

 

When they were done, they agreed that Dog would stay and be Nobantu’s guard dog. As the sun set that night, Dog fell asleep on his little bed with a smile on his face, and both his eyes closed. And that is how he and his children, and their children’s children came to live with people, and that’s why dogs are no longer wild things that wander the bushveld and sleep in caves all alone.