Dog Teaches Man (About Tools and Humility)

a true story by Jackson Gillman

© 2000 by Jackson Gillman

As I skated alone, I was starting to get too cold for comfort. I was about to head home when hardy Labrador retriever skittered onto the ice from out of nowhere and asked if I wanted to play. Sure I thought, and looked around for a toy but found only a small twig. I launched it onto the ice for a simple game of fetch. The dog, annoyed with my feeble attempt at amusing him with this child's play, realized that if he wanted to have fun, he'd have to take things into his own paws. So, off into the woods he ran. When he trotted back, he had a good-sized stick and showed me the rules of the game. The one with the stick tries to keep it away from the other, but must give him a decent chance. For me, that meant skating around with the stick held out -- but not too fast since I, he rightly insisted, had an obvious advantage on the ice. As for my 4-footed friend, whenever he managed to get the stick away from me, he would hightail it for the nearest shore where I couldn't follow. He then brought the stick to a spot right along the edge of the ice and would occupy himself with chewing the bark off. I soon discovered that this clever maneuver made it more difficult for me to get a good grip. He would pretend to be inattentive enough so that I could sneak up to snatch it away, but not without a good tug-of-war first. Clamped on the end, he'd get a nifty slide across the ice until I wrested the prize free and flung it across the ice for a fresh bout.

This continued for some time until -- whoops! -- the stick broke in two. At this point we had quite a disagreement over who had the larger piece. I stubbornly refused to concede that he had the official stick. He, apparently not wishing to squabble over such a petty matter, turned tail and left me with my half stick -- more or less. I felt bad losing my playmate on account of my poor sportsmanship. I hadn't even found out his name or where he lived so I might apologize and ask him out to play again. If I'd had a tail, it would've been between my legs as I slunk back to the shore.

A commotion in the woods caught my attention and I looked up to see my friend struggling with a large fallen limb. He proceeded to bite off the twigs and gnawed off a portion to a suitable playing size. I gawked in admiration as I witnessed another irrefutable disproof that man alone has the intelligence to make his own tools. This canine Einstein then brought me the new stick, proudly displaying its increased size and sturdiness. Generously letting bygones be bygones, he invited me to resume our playful romp.

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