Matthew Bracken sends this Boxing Day fable for you to ponder during the lull between Christmas and New Year’s.
Note: Alert readers will observe that our rules concerning decorum have been relaxed slightly in Mr. Bracken’s case. This is true of all the fiction we publish here. However, the posted rules for decorum still apply to commenters.
Wolfophobia On Dog Island
by Matt Bracken
Now you young pups sit down and listen to an old dog who didn’t get to be old by being a dummy. Try to sit still and pay attention, because some folks will tell you otherwise about what happened, but they have their own reasons and I have mine, and mine are right and theirs are wrong. After you hear the true story of what happened with the wolves on Dog Island, you’ll understand why you should never forget it. I was there, and this is what happened. Stop fidgeting and pay attention.
In those days, before the wolves came, there were a lot of show dogs on Dog Island, just like now, but back in those days the Standard Poodles were in charge, because for some reason everybody gave them credit for being the smartest dogs around. And compared to most show dogs, Poodles are geniuses, I’ll give them that.
Supposedly that’s why they were put in charge of dividing up the dog food, keeping the water bowls filled, and things like that. And despite their silly fur, Standard Poodles can grow pretty big, so they are not pushovers. And of course the show dogs loved it that the Poodles were in charge, and gave them dog food even though they didn’t work. If you can believe it, the show dogs had almost everybody convinced that they should get fed just for looking so good and raising everybody’s morale. And the poodles agreed with this nonsense and kept the show dogs fed for doing nothing but looking good.
And a big part of the reason for this crazy state of affairs was the fact that Apollo, the boss of the Poodles, was such a damned good bullshit artist. He could really lay it down thick, so that even some of the working dogs agreed with his ideas, such as feeding the show dogs even though they don’t work.
Of course, then like now, us working dogs did all of the work on Dog Island, but even so, Apollo and the other Poodles ran the show. They said that their breed’s specialty was brain work and consisted of managing things for everybody day-to-day. But that was okay, as long as there was enough dog food, and the water bowls got filled. Even though it griped us that the show dogs got fed for doing nothing.
But one thing we all agreed on, working dogs and show dogs, was that we could not let any wolves onto Dog Island. Wolves and dogs were enemies, and that was that.
We knew all about wolves on Dog Island. We could hear them yipping and yapping and mostly howling at the moon the way they do, on their own island which is farther out on the river and downstream a bit. Occasionally a stray wolf will fall into the river or be driven into exile, and they will show up trying to get onto Dog Island, but we never permit this. That was always a big important rule on Dog Island. No wolves. Period.
But then apparently there were some worse-than-usual problems over on Wolf Island. Their moon howling became extreme, and some wolves tried swimming upstream to Dog Island. Normally we drove them off, but this time some Poodles met a smallish male wolf on the beach, and Apollo proposed that we should not drive him back into the river, as was customary.
When I heard about this, I met up with Duke and we went down to the beach to see what was going on. Duke is the biggest German Shepherd, and all the Shepherds and Dobermans and Rottweilers look up to him.
I’m not as big as Duke, but nobody messes with a male Labrador-Pitbull mix who is bigger than any other Labrador Retriever or Pitbull on the island. I like hanging out with Duke, we get along well, and the working dogs all look up to him. When we are running together, Spike and Duke, nobody messes with us, and most of the working dogs want to follow us. And the show dogs know enough to stay the hell out of our way.
But now Apollo was trying to convince us to let one poor wolf who had been forced to flee his home island stay and live among us on Dog Island. Apollo said that all canines are equal, and we must not show prejudice toward our cousin the wolf. He did not choose to be a wolf, he was born that way, and conditions on Wolf Island have become unbearable.
Apollo explained that our guest was a gray wolf, and they were always fighting with the red wolves on Wolf Island. All the game was wiped out by over-hunting, and the wolves were down to hunting each other, with no quarter given and the losers eaten. The refugee wolf had some old and new wounds and was truly a pathetic sight. And I’ll admit there was some satisfaction in seeing one of our eternal enemies reduced to this wretched state. He would even roll over on his back and show his throat, like a complete sissy lap dog. Yes, I’ll confess that it was enjoyable to see a wolf roll over and be submissive before us dogs.
There was plenty of dog food to go around, so we decided to go along with Apollo, and let this one miserable cringing gray wolf stay on Dog Island. It would be a death sentence for him to be sent back to Wolf Island, Apollo said. And we had no trouble with one wolf on Dog Island, even after he regained his strength by eating lots of our dog food. Apollo promised us that this wolf had given up his former carnivorous habits. This wolf must not be judged as a wolf at all anymore. We must not judge him negatively merely for being a wolf, which he did not choose and he cannot help. To do so would be wolfophobic.
But the next day, there were two more wolves who had come ashore, forlorn and desolate like the first wolf had been. These three wolves then became inseparable, and as they became healthy they would run all around Dog Island and generally be a pain in the ass to everybody.
First of all, they could not control their sexual emotions, and if they saw a female dog they would just mount her, if she was in heat, or not. Naturally this angered the female dogs no end, especially when they were not in heat.
And after a week, a golden retriever puppy went missing, and a day or two later, a year-old cocker spaniel. The wolves claimed to know nothing about them, and the Poodles offered no further information.
When Duke heard about the second missing puppy, he came to find me, and together we went down to where the Poodles hang out, which was now also where the three wolves were hanging out. Probably because it was where the Poodles divided up the dog food for everybody.
Me and Duke trotted right up to Apollo, between all the show dogs in the front of the Poodles. At least twenty or more working dogs were following right behind us, so we weren’t worried. Duke said he wanted to have a word with Apollo about the new wolf policy. One wolf had been okay, but not three. He said this while staring at the three wolves, who were lying on their bellies watching us.
The wolves bared their teeth and growled, but continued lying down, muzzles low. Duke said to Apollo, Two puppies are missing, and we think those wolves right there did it. Apollo acted angry and said Duke must not accuse them of such a terrible thing without proof.
And Duke said the wolves are mounting every female at every chance, and this must stop. Apollo responded that this is part of their wolf culture, and we must respect this cultural difference, and permit a certain amount of it, for the sake of good relations between the wolves and dogs.
Duke said, But we don’t want good relations, we want them gone! They are our eternal enemies, and they will kill and eat any dog they catch any chance they get, no matter what they promise.
Apollo got very angry and barked out that Duke and Spike were the leaders of the wolfophobic bigots, and we should be ashamed of how badly we spoke of our new canine cousins, and all canines are equal. Now that they had arrived on peaceful Dog Island, they would live in peace with us. Believe it or not, most of the show dogs were nodding their agreement at this utter nonsense.
And Apollo wasn’t finished. He said that more wolves were going to be accepted as refugees and immigrants from Wolf Island. The ongoing war between the reds and the grays made conditions just too dangerous for any of them to endure.