Once upon a time …
Long ago, when the Human race was still young and new to this world Humanity lived in caves and in tents made of wood and animal hides. Humanity had learned to harness the power of fire and to control it. Humanity had learned to kill the other creatures of the Earth and to use their body parts for more than just food. All the other creatures of the Earth had learned to fear Humanity, for Humanity had become a mighty hunter and had begun to range far and wide over the landscape.
Mother Earth loved all her creatures but She loved Humanity best. For through Humanity could She perceive Herself in all Her glory. She could watch the Sun rise through Human eyes; feel the wind blow against Human skin, taste meat and fruit with Human tongue. She could feel what it was to make love, experience the thrill of the hunt and She learned about the fear of death.
That the Mother loved Humanity best also caused the other creatures to fear them. Many creatures learned to run at the sight or smell of Humanity but some did not. Some creatures liked the taste of Human flesh and others would fight Humanity if they should try to hunt them.
Wolf feared Humanity. Much more than that, Wolf feared Humanities fires. The thought that Humanity dared to bring fire into their dens filled them with fright. Fire was far too dangerous to have in one’s den! Wolf learned to stay away from Humanity.
One day, however, a young she Wolf was walking through the woods and caught the scent of blood on the air. She was very hungry, for she carried pups in her womb. Her pack mates had been killed by a bad Winter and she had no one to help her hunt. She followed the delicious smell, her stomach rumbling with hunger. When she saw where the smell was coming from she shivered with fright, for the smell came from just outside a Human den. The smell of meat was so strong she could not turn away. So she hid and she watched the frightful Humans.
She watched Humanity carve hide and flesh off a kill and divide its parts amongst them. She watched with horror as they burned flesh over a large fire. Yet she stayed, for the smell of the meat made her pups move within her. She stayed out of hope. Then she watched as one Human took some bones, scraps and other things out of the Human den and walk away from it. Silently she stalked the Human, watching his every move. The Human took the scraps and placed them into a shallow pit a ways down a Human trail from the Human den. Then, he left.
The she Wolf waited as long as she dared, to see if any Human would return to the pit. She whined. Fear and hunger waged a war within her; finally the need to feed her pups won and she slunk out of the bushes and into the pit. There she found and snatched a bone that still had meat clinging to it and ran off, back into the bushes. She did this three more times through the night until at last, her belly was full.
Wolf made a den not far from the Human scrap pit and she stole food from it late at night. Then as the Moon full and high in the sky, she gave birth to five pups. Wolf ate the placentas and cleaned the pups; she fed them with good milk thanks to the food she had gotten from the Human pit. Once her pups bellies were full and they slept, she snuck out of the den and went as far from them as she dared, to mark territory in the way that Wolves do and to gaze up at the Moon. She spoke a prayer of gratitude to the Mother for her healthy pups, her safe den and the Human pit.
Wolf taught her pups how to steal from the Human pits and they also learned how to stalk Humans as the Humans stalked their prey. Wolf and her pups cleaned up the Human kills once they returned to their Human den. Wolf’s pups and their pups grew to understand Humanity more as they watched them. They grew to fear them less and less. They made their dens near the Human den.
Then another bad Winter came. The freezing cold brought sickness to the small Wolf pack and many died. Only a few pups who had just begun to be weaned survived. They cried and cried for their mother but she never came. One by one, they began to die themselves until there was only one. The last pup dared to climb out of the den in search of her mother and cried for her. She was so very, very cold she knew if she had no warm mother soon she would die. Then something came towards her and she cowered in fright. The thing picked her up and held her close. The smell of a Human scared the Wolf pup greatly, but then she realised she was warm, snuggled within the furs the Human wore. She found herself being lulled to sleep by this warmth and by the sound of the Human’s heartbeat.
The bad Winter had also not been kind to Humanity. The sickness the Winter brought had taken a child from this Human woman and she had walked the woods in mourning. When she heard the cries of the pup she had been filled with the power of the Mother and could not turn away and leave the pup to die. The Human took the pup back to her den.
The other Humans were afraid, for they feared Wolf. But the wisest Human among them saw the Mother within the woman who had brought Wolf into their den and spoke on her behalf. The woman took the pup into her part of the den and she cared for her. She fed her scraps of meat mixed with her own milk, milk she had no child to give to. She raised her as if she was her child and grew to love her.
As the pup grew into a Wolf she began to leave the Human den more and more, answering the need to be a Wolf. However something magical had happened, for in the time the pup was in the Human den, Humanity had learned about Wolf and Wolf had learned about Humanity.
This Wolf remembered the love she had been given by the Human woman and she taught this love to her own pups. Those pups were less afraid of Humanity than any other Wolves had ever been, for they knew how to love a Human and not to fear Humanity. Their pups grew even bolder and so did their love for Humanity. Humanity learned not only to respect and fear Wolf, but also how to love Wolf.
From Greg Harder at the NUP Flickr group
Eventually the Wolves of the Humans were free of their fear of Humanity and only full of love for them. Humanity called these Wolves “Dog”. The Dogs changed their shapes, colours and sizes to better suit Humanity and Humanity grew to love Dog as one loves a best friend. Dog’s love for Humanity grew so great that of all the Mother’s creatures, Dog’s love runs the deepest, even deeper than Humanities’ love.
With this love and with the remembered gratitude of the Wolf who was hungry and the pup who was cold, Dog has ever served Humanity. Dog freely gives up life and limb, freedom and the woods to be in the company of Humanity.
Without the service of Dog, Humanity would have struggled even harder to learn to herd animals, to protect crops and their dens. Humanity would not have a warm Dog to snuggle when the Winters are bad. Without the service, love and loyalty of Dog, Humanity would not be what it is today.
Above all this however, the greatest service Dog has ever provided Humanity is the ongoing lesson of unconditional love.