Are You A Hungry Wolf or a Well-Dressed Dog? — Through the Fable Looking Glass

The news barrage around Harvey Weinstein reminds us of the compromises that most of us make to find our way in the world and points toward the universal issue of how we define independence. This fable turns its lens inward, to prick at the balloon of our self-image.

A Wolf was nothing but skin and bones, so well were the dogs standing guard. Roaming the forest, the Wolf met a Dog, as powerful as he was handsome. Fat and sleek, he had gotten lost by accident. Attack him and put him in his place — Sir Wolf would have liked nothing better. But he had to avoid the fight. His opponent had the size to defend himself quite hardily.

So the Wolf approached the Dog with humility, began the conversation by complimenting him on his robust gleam and health, which he admired.

This could be yours, good sir, to be as fat as me, the Dog replied. Quit these woods and you’ll do well. The members of your pack are miserable, cancrous, and no account poor devils, whose condition is to die of hunger. And why? Because nothing is guaranteed, there’s no free lunch, and everything comes at the tip of a sword. Follow me, and you’ll have a better destiny.

The Wolf asked, What do I have to do?

Almost nothing, the Dog said. Play chase, bring back sticks, beg a little. Flatter the household. Please your master. The pay is exorbitant when you consider how light the tasks are. Chicken bones. Pigeon bones. And I haven’t even mentioned the petting.

The Wolf was so overcome by the tender picture of his beautiful future that he wanted to cry.

As the two walked side by side, the Wolf noticed a ringed bald spot on the Dog’s neck.

What’s that?


That …


No. It’s definitely something.

Again with the interrogation …


… It may be some chafing from the collar I wear.

You don’t run free, wherever you want?

No. But really, why?

For all the tea in China, as they say.

Mister Wolf reassessed the bounty he had been on the verge of accepting and turned tail and ran. He runs free still.

Are you a Wolf or a Dog?

Despite the bad rap (largely unfair) wolves get from movies (teeth bared, jaw foaming, eyes aglow in the dark night — the stuff of nightmares), I still want to fancy myself more Wolf than Dog; the wolfish artist slipping the leash, unwilling to sacrifice my independence for a bit of comfort. But if I’m honest, I’m a half-breed. I have tried to forge my own path, but at the same time I’m lucky enough to have found comfort too. And what’s so bad about the Dog’s life anyway? I like to be petted and if the leash is long. Still, I tell myself, I’m more Wolf than other people. In the same way that I’ll think everyone driving faster than me is crazy and everyone driving slower is a blind grandpa.

But I suspect a similar I’m-more-Wolf auto-narrative plays its loop in a lot of other people’s heads.

So perhaps the point is not whether you are the Wolf or the Dog; it is whether you feel like the Wolf or the Dog. After all, if freedom is a construct in our mind (as the Buddhists might say), then we can make and unmake it at will.

So long as our collars don’t chafe.

What are these Fableogs?


Originally published at on October 24, 2017.

Tagged in Self Image, Freedom, Independence, Fable, Jean De La Fontaine

By Mina Samuels on October 24, 2017.

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Exported from Medium on March 17, 2018.



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