The Wolf and the Dog is a tale is from Aesop’s Fables. Although in the public domain, this version is retold with some slight variations. While Aesop’s Fables are generally considered children’s stories, I think that the moral of this story is something that many adults need to revisit from time to time.
It had been a harsh and unforgiving winter. The wolf was gaunt, hungry from the scarcity of food. He had already lost his mate and young pups to nature’s cruelty and as it stood, he did not know if he would survive until warmer days. He was little more than a few pounds of flesh over bone, and he had wounds exposed from fighting for what little food could be had in the wilderness. There were moments each day when he wanted nothing more than to lay down and be overcome by the frost. He walked without intent until he happened upon a farm, the fields barren from the snow. He walked closer, hoping to find a henhouse, sheep, or even some scraps of food thrown aside by the people inside. Instead, he came upon a dog, resting easily in a shelter that was constructed to protect him from the elements. The wolf would have attacked, eager for any meat at all, but he was too weak and the dog appeared fierce in his own right. Then the dog lifted an eye, and without moving said, “Hello, friend. It looks as though you have had a rough season.”
The wolf looked down, ashamed at his own appearance. “Indeed. It has been cold, and food has been scarce. If winter lasts much longer, I trust that it will be my last.”
“It does not have to be that way.” The dog moved his front paw, exposing a large bone, the meat already gone, eaten earlier that evening. “I get one of these nearly every evening, with prime bits of meat and plenty of table scraps from inside. A man comes and delivers it to me.”
The wolf’s ears perked. “You mean to say that food gets brought to you each night?”
“And in the morning as well. Yes,” replied the dog. “It can be brought to you as well, if you join me. You can share my work, and in return, you will be fed every day.”
The wolf was interested. “What must you do to earn your food, and to have a shelter to sleep in?”
“Almost nothing. Merely bark at strangers, keep thieves away from the house, and show affection to the family. It is really quite easy. You really should consider it. ”
“Yes. It sounds like good work. It would be an easy trade given the struggles of the forest. I think I will join you.” The wolf began thinking of the happiness that was to come. He could hardly wait for a belly full of food and a warm place to sleep, his worries fading away and the harsh life he had become accustomed being only a memory.
“You will not regret your decision,” said the dog. “For very little work, you will receive all you need to live in comfort.” The dog began to rise, and as he did the wolf noticed the collar placed around his neck, a chain hanging from it and attached securely to the dog house. The wolf’s eyes widened and he began to back away slowly.
“Oh, this thing,” the dog said, gesturing toward the chain. “This is nothing. It barely limits me at all. And it is a small price to pay for a life of security and comfort.
“No. I can’t…” the wolf said softly. “I won’t.” He continued to back away until he was running toward the treeline, into the woods where he would gladly spend his days and nights struggling for survival, rather than trade his freedom for security.