Wully, the story of a yaller dog
WULLY, The Story of a Yaller Dog
WULLY WAS a little yaller dog. A yaller dog, be it understood, is not
necessarily the same as a yellow dog. He is not simply a canine whose
capillary covering is highly charged with yellow pigment. He is the
mongrelest mixture of all mongrels, the least common multiple of all
dogs, the breedless union of all breeds, and though of no breed at all,
he is yet of older, better breed than any of his aristocratic relations,
for he is nature's attempt to restore the ancestral jackal, the parent
stock of all dogs.
Indeed, the scientific name of the jackal (Canis aureus) means simply
'yellow dog,' and not a few of that animal's characteristics are seen in
his domesticated representative. For the plebeian cur is shrewd, active,
and hardy, and far better equipped for the real struggle of life than
any of his 'thoroughbred' kinsmen.
If we were to abandon a yaller dog, a greyhound, and a bulldog on a
desert island, which of them after six months would be alive and well?
Unquestionably it would be the despised yellow cur. He has not the speed
of the greyhound, but neither does he bear the seeds of lung and skin
diseases. He has not the strength or reckless courage of the bulldog,
but he has something a thousand times better, he has common sense.
Health and wit are no mean equipment for the life struggle, and when the
dog-world is not 'managed' by man, they have never yet failed to bring
out the yellow mongrel as the sole and triumphant survivor.
Once in a while the reversion to the jackal type is more complete, and
the yaller dog has pricked and pointed ears. Beware of him then. He is
cunning and plucky and can bite like a wolf. There is a strange, wild
streak in his nature too, that under cruelty or long adversity may
develop into deadliest treachery in spite of the better traits that are
the foundation of man's love for the dog.
Away up in the Cheviots little Wully was born. He and one other of the
litter were kept; his brother because he resembled the best dog in the
vicinity, and himself because he was a little yellow beauty.
His early life was that of a sheep-dog, in company with an experienced
collie who trained him, and an old shepherd who was scarcely inferior
to them in intelligence. By the time he was two years old Wully was
full grown and had taken a thorough course in sheep. He knew them from
ram-horn to lamb-hoof, and old Robin, his master, at length had such
confidence in his sagacity that he would frequently stay at the tavern
all night while Wully guarded the woolly idiots in the hills. His
education had been wisely bestowed and in most ways he was a very bright
little dog with a future before him, Yet he never learned to despise
that addlepated Robin. The old shepherd, with all his faults, his
continual striving after his ideal state — intoxication — and his
mind-shrivelling life in general was rarely brutal to Wully, and Wully
repaid him with an exaggerated worship that the greatest and wisest in
the land would have aspired to in vain.
Wully could not have imagined any greater being than Robin, and yet for
the sum of five shillings a week all Robin's vital energy and mental
force were pledged to the service of a not very great cattle and sheep
dealer, the real proprietor of Wully's charge, and when this man, really
less great than the neighboring laird, or dered Robin to drive his flock
by stages to the Yorkshire moors and markets, of all the 376 mentalities
concerned, if Wully's was the most interested and interesting.