The Dog Who Saved His Master

from the collection of W. C. McKern

Original manuscript pages: | 264 | 265 | 266 |

(264) If you treated any dog fairly good, it was said in the old days that he would repay you by being useful. The dog, no matter what his breed, might become a good hunter, one who would hunt anything.

A man, his wife, and one dog went out to hunt. One day's journey they traveled and set up their camp. The man's father had urged him not to take his wife away from the village. He started to hunt. After several days, one evening when the dog came home, the man knew that something was wrong. The dog was restless. So he went out with the dog. Then he talked to his dog. Then he understood what the dog said. The dog told him, "Some enemy are coming. They are getting ready to trap us now. Your father told us not to take my sister-in-law along. So she should go home right now, while we stay and fight." The leader is not as powerful as I am. I am stronger than he. They will not kill us. I (265) will stay by you and help you out." It was just about dark, so that it was hard to see anybody. The dog said, "The woman should not carry anything so that she can run fast. When she is ready, tell her to catch hold of my tail and I can lead her up to a safe place without being seen by the enemy. Then she can go on to the village." The dog said, "When I turn to a certain place, face in a certain direction and paw the ground, she is to go in that direction and she will be safe." So they sent the woman home to take the news of their predicament to the people at home. When she started, the dog returned to the man.

The dog said, "We must eat something now, as we must fight all day tomorrow without stopping for anything. The attack is generally made early in the morning. That is how it was this time. They heard them yell, and they came. The dog went to meet them. The man gave a war whoop and also advanced. The dog killed as many as the man. The woman got home at daylight. Her people got the warparty ready and started right away. They came up to the place of fighting in the afternoon. They saw the man and dog fighting the enemy. Many had been killed. With these reinforcements, more were killed. That is how dogs did sometimes. (266) That is why the Indians always treated dogs well, so that they would help them out in an emergency.1

Commentary."then he understood what the dog said" — that is, he suddenly understood dog speech. It was believed that dogs had their own langaguage which those blessed with the skill could interpret. These people were called šųgit’énąxgų.

Comparative Material. ...

Links: Wolf & Dog Spirits

Stories: relating to dogs or wolves: The Gray Wolf Origin Myth, A Man and His Three Dogs, White Wolf, Wolves and Humans, The Wolf Clan Origin Myth, The Old Man and His Four Dogs, Worúxega, The Dogs of the Chief's Son, The Dog that became a Panther, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Wild Rose, The Man Whose Wife was Captured, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Canine Warrior, The Raccoon Coat, Wojijé, The Big Eater, Why Dogs Sniff One Another, The Healing Blessing, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Trickster Loses His Meal, Sun and the Big Eater, Redhorn's Sons, Trickster, the Wolf, the Turtle, and the Meadow Lark, Hog's Adventures, Holy One and His Brother, The Messengers of Hare, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Grandmother's Gifts, The Hocąk Migration Myth, Bladder and His Brothers, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, The Old Man and the Giants, Rich Man, Boy, and Horse, Kunu's Warpath, Morning Star and His Friend, Black Otter's Warpath, Chief Wave and the Big Drunk; Peace of Mind Regained (?).

This story is similar to The Canine Warrior.

Themes: someone expresses concern about the military danger of the area where someone has erected his lodge: Hare Visits His Grandfather Bear, A Man's Revenge, The Warbundle Maker, White Fisher; a man understands the language of certain animals: The Raccoon Coat, A Man and His Three Dogs, The Dogs of the Chief's Son, The Canine Warrior; while a man fights a large enemy force, others go off to get reinforcements: How Little Priest went out as a Soldier, White Fisher, The Warbundle Maker, A Man and His Three Dogs; dogs rescue humans from their enemies: Wolves and Humans, A Man and His Three Dogs, The Dog that became a Panther, The Old Man and His Four Dogs, The Dogs of the Chief's Son, The Canine Warrior.


1 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 264-266.