Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Dog and the Shadow

This is another fable by our old friend, Mr. Aesop.  It's a story about a dog who found a piece of meat, and he decided to take it home and eat it there, so nobody would bother him while he was eating.  But on his way home, he had to cross a little bridge over a stream.  When he was partway across, he stopped and looked down into the water, and he saw a dog with a piece of meat in his mouth!  And since he was a greedy dog, he decided he could easily get a second piece of meat to eat.  But when he opened his mouth and snapped at the other dog, he dropped his meat, and it fell in the water and got washed away.

This is a sort of sad story because the poor dog, who thought he could have two pieces of meat, ended up with no meat at all.  Here's the official moral for this fable:  
Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.
Mr. Aesop talked kind of funny like that, but I think what he meant was that if you already have a real piece of meat in your mouth, just hang onto that and don't go grabbing at another piece of meat that isn't even real.  Which makes sense, if you think about it.  Except that the dog in the story didn't know that the meat he saw in the reflection wasn't real.  This means that he probably didn't live inside a house with his people, where he would see his reflection in a mirror sometimes, because if he did, he would know about reflections.

So in one way, it wasn't the dog's fault that he thought the meat he saw reflected was real.  But I guess he should have somehow made sure it was real before he tried to get it.  And he should have known that if he opened his mouth, he would drop the meat he already had, which was quite real and probably would have been quite tasty if he had gotten to eat it.

I think maybe a better moral for this story would be this one:
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Or we could make it more dog-related this way:
A bird in the mouth is worth two that you don't have in your mouth.
Because the mistake the dog in the fable made was that he wasn't content with the meat he already had, and he lost it because he tried to get more meat. 

So the moral is that you should just be content with your "substance," as Mr. Aesop put it, and not be trying to get more "substance" that might not even be real.  And also:  Don't be fooled by reflections!  Sometimes birds get fooled by reflections and that's how they crash into windows and break their necks. Which actually makes it easy for dogs or cats to catch and eat the birds, but it's not anything a dog or cat should do because a broken neck is not a nice thing to have!


  1. you are thinking too much on the actaul story rather than how it can relate to real life for other people. i also literally laughed out loud when i read some of the things he/she wrote like how they kept returning to the fact that if the dog lived in a house with mirrors he would not have dropped the meat hahahahaha wtf