How Dogs Began to Bark
How Dogs began to Bark
“Ah Koh Papae ah Papae ah! Bona Jimi Wata Watah” Coconuts crackling and Lizard tails wagging! This is a story of time long ago. A time long before the white man came and brought Christianity to the Binandere lands of the Oro province.
This was a time long ago, in the first-ever village where Man and Dog lived happily together side by side. This was a time when believe it or not, Dogs could talk.
Now Dog and Man lived together in the same village and they would often chat with each other about all sorts of things, they shared their meals and belongings together, and even slept on the same mat and ate from the same plates. The Dog in those days was a lot different compared to the dog we know now, back then he acted just like a man. He could talk, cook and even clean and look after himself. The Dog was a sophisticated and intelligent creature very un-like the dog we know now.
Man and Dog were equals, in-separable and were the best of friends. But Dog had a particularly bad habit. He was a lazy fellow and he would often make up excuses not to go with man whenever man would ask him to accompany him to the garden or go out hunting.
Man would say, “Dog let’s go hunting together?”
“Man I would love to come but I have got something really important to do”. Dog would often reply.
Then while man was out hunting or gardening. Dog would sleep all day and wait for man to come back with food. Then he would be the first one to be there once the meals were prepared.
One day while man went out hunting, the village was empty all accept Dog who was lying down in the house.
Enemies from a nearby tribe came and were about pass through the village. Dog heard noises coming from outside and came out to investigate.
They were startled when Dog came out of the house.
“Where is everyone? We did not mean to trespass please do not let your people know that we have come this way,” spoke their leader
Dog sensing an opportunity, spoke to the enemies. “Do not worry they have all gone hunting and won’t be back until the evening I am the only one here. Take what you can from every house but spare me some food from every house. I will not tell them anything.”
The enemies plundered every house and the greedy Dog ate until his belly was full. By the time man and the other villagers came back, they were shocked to find their houses had been ransacked.
“Dog what happened?” Asked Man.
“Oh I am sorry I was feeling sick and was fast asleep, some enemies must have come while I was sleeping.” replied Dog.
Then about a month later the same thing happened again, the villagers’ houses were burgled while they were out hunting and only dog was in the village. And once again Dog was sick and had fallen fast asleep and apparently did not see anyone come in to the village.
Now by this time man was already annoyed with Dog and began to sense that something was just not right. This time man and his wife hatched a plan, they would only pretend to go out hunting with the others but would instead hide in the nearby bushes.
As the village became deserted they waited and watched as the enemy tribe approached the village. Then to their astonishment, out from the house came Dog, and there was Dog talking with them as if he had known them all along.
They could hardly believe their ears as he spoke to them telling then where the villagers had gone, and when they would be back. And then instructing them to burgle each house and give him a share of food from each house.
How could Dog their good, trusted friend do this to them. Man was furious as he watched this cunning Dog fill his belly with food from every house and then return back to sleep and wait for the other villagers to return. Man thought to himself, I am going to teach that Dog a lesson he will never forget.
When everyone returned to the village they heard that same story from Dog about he was feeling sick and was fast asleep when the robbers came.
Man did not talk he instead instructed his wife to wake up early the next morning and prepare a delicious meal of meat and taro, creamed with coconut and serve it especially for Dog. He instructed her to heat the coconut shells over the fire and not to through them away.
Dog slept all night and got up the early next morning to the mouth-watering smell of pig meat and taro, creamed in coconut, spring onions, ginger and mixed with herbs. Dog’s tummy groaning, rushed over to the bowl of food, shoveling down mouthful after mouthful.
As he was about to gulp down the third mouthful, when man pounced upon him from behind and smothered his mouth with the burning red hot coconut shell.
Dog tossed and turned trying to remove the shell from his mouth but man held it tightly over Dog’s mouth with a banana leaf he had placed in his palm.
The hot shell gripped Dogs long nose and sunk firmly around his nose pressing his skin and burning into his flesh. Dog unable to call out or cry in agony, howled as shell stuck to his skin and he wriggled around on the floor in pain trying to remove the shell with his paws barking loudly.
It is from this time onwards that the Dog lost his voice and ability to talk, and as a result he now only barks and howls. Now if you take a closer look at any dog today you will notice it has black marks around its nose and whiskers, these are the marks from the hot coconut shell that man used to cover the Dog’s mouth with.
Nowadays Dog and Man are still good friends but no longer equals. You will also notice that Dogs will always look after the house and bark to alert you that intruders are coming. Dogs will also accompany men out hunting and escort them wherever they go. This is because the Dog learnt two very important lessons that day all those years ago.
The dog learnt not to be lazy, and to be always be loyal to the people you stay with. And this important lesson applies every one of us even today.
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© 2018 Romney Charles Tabara