Why the Indian loves his Dog
by Mabel Powers
The dog is the Indian's best friend. He is the comrade by day and the
protector by night. As long as the Indian's dog has strength, he will
fight for his friend.
The Indian says this is how the dog came to take his part.
An Indian and his dogs went into the woods to hunt. It was in the days
when dogs and men could talk together, and each understood the language
of the other.
When they reached the woods, the dogs began to talk with the Indian.
They told him many wonderful things about the woods, which he did not
know. They taught him many tricks of the chase: how to scent and track
the game, and where to look for trails.
The man listened to what the dogs said, and he did as they told him.
Soon the sledge which the dogs had drawn to the woods was piled high
with deer and other game.
Never had the Indian's arrows brought him so much game. Never had he met
with such success in hunting. He was so pleased that he said to the
dogs, "Always shall I talk with you, give ear to what you say, and be
one of you."
"Ah, but listen!" said the dogs. "If you wish to be one of us, you must
live under the law of dogs, not men. Animals have laws different from
those of men. When two dogs meet for the first time, they try their
strength to see which is the better dog.
"Men do not fight when strangers meet, they shake hands. As we fight
strange dogs, so you, too, must fight strange men, to see which is the
best man,—if you are to live under the law of dogs."
The man said he would think it over, and at sunrise give his answer.
Indians always sleep before deciding a question.
Next morning, the man said he would live under the law of animals, and
fight strange men.
The following day, the man made ready to leave the woods. From the
basswood, he made a strong harness for the dogs, so that they could draw
the load of game back to the camp for him.
When the sun was high, the man and the dogs started with the sledge
load of game. They had not gone far before they saw two strange Indians
"Now," said the dogs to the man, "remember you are living under the
dog's law. You must fight these strange men."
The man attacked first one Indian and then the other. At last both
turned on him, and when they left him, he was nearly dead. At this, the
dogs took a hand. They leaped upon the Indians and drove them from the
woods. Then they came back to where their friend lay on the ground, and
began to talk with him and lick his face.
The man could not speak for some time, but when his voice came to him,
he said to the dogs, "No longer do I wish to live under the law of
animals. No more shall I fight strangers. From this time, I shall shake
hands with strangers, and bid them welcome. From this time, I shall be a
man and live under the law of men."
"Then," said the dogs sadly, "we shall no longer be able to talk with
you, and tell you the things that we know. But we will always stand by
you. We will be your friends and will fight for you, when you need us as
you did to-day."
This is why the Indian and his dog are now unable to speak each other's
language. This is also why an Indian's dog will fight to the death for
Not only is the dog a true friend to the Indian in this world, but in
the next as well. It seems that the soul of an Indian on its journey to
the Happy Hunting Ground must cross a deep, swift-running stream. On
either side of this dark river, there stand two dogs who hold in their
teeth a great log upon which the souls pass.
The soul of the Indian who has been kind to his dog crosses the log
easily, for the dogs stand guard. As the soul of such an Indian reaches
the river, they say, "This Indian was kind to his dog. He gave him of
his own food, and the dog always had a warm place by his fire. We will
help this Indian to cross."
Then the dogs grip the log firmly in their teeth, and hold it steady
while the soul of the kind Indian passes over.
But if the soul of an Indian who has been unkind to his dog comes to the
river, the dogs say, "This man was cruel to his dog. He gave his dog no
place by the fire, he beat him, he let him go hungry. This man shall not
Then the dogs grip the log lightly in their teeth, and when the soul of
the unkind Indian is half way across, they turn it quickly to one side,
and the soul is thrown into the deep, dark river.
Many an Indian has been kind to his dog, that he might make sure of a
safe crossing on that log.