Friday Fable: Krylov’s “THE ELEPHANT AND THE PUG-DOG”

Posted by jlubans on July 27, 2017

Caption: The yapping dog. Postcard Drawing by Stroganova and Alexeev – 1969.

“AN Elephant was being taken through the streets, probably as a sight. It is well known that Elephants are a wonder among us; so crowds of gaping idlers followed the Elephant. From some comer or other, a Pug-dog comes to meet him. It looks at the Elephant, and then begins to run at it, to bark, to squeal, to try to get at it, just as if it wanted to fight it.
‘Neighbour, cease to bring shame on yourself,’ says Shafka (the long haired dog) to it. ‘Are you capable of fighting an Elephant? Just see now, you are already hoarse; but it keeps straight on, and does not pay you the slightest attention.’
‘Aye, aye !’ replies the Pug-dog, ‘that's just what gives me courage. In this way, you see, without fighting at all, I may get reckoned among the greatest bullies. Just let the dogs say, Ah, look at Puggy ! He must be strong, indeed, that's clear, or he would never bark at an Elephant.'"
Patterned after Aesop’sTHE DOG AND THE LION”, Krylov’s pug-dog is anyone who manipulates the “optics” to imply they have some quality which they do not posses. Of course, it is self delusion; the depicted crowd ignores the dog.
Aesop’s version appears in my “Fables for Leaders” book and includes a vignette of one of my adventures with Bridger, my daughter Mara’s black lab:
“In the early morning you’ll see us, rain or shine, on a nearby forest
trail. In the afternoon, it’s a leisurely saunter around the block. One of
the houses in the neighborhood has a couple small dogs and a cat or
two. Usually I have Bridger off-leash because there is little foot traffic
and because she is amazingly polite and well behaved, of course.
Not long ago, as we strolled past the house with the several pets,
a high-strung barking erupted. Within seconds a tiny dog shot out
of the driveway scrambling after Bridger. Bridger was un-impressed.
Here was this 3 or 4-pounder, barking and snarling at a 50-pound black
lab. “Bring it on,” the little guy was shouting, “Bring it on!”
Bridger, imperturbable, ambled on. Then – Napoleonically thinking
she was in retreat – he snapped at Bridger. Bridger spun around,
opening her jaws about a foot wide, showing all of her teeth back to
the molars. And, her hackles stood up three inches, adding another
20 pounds to her presence. The little dog, stunned, eyes bulging,
ceased and desisted back into the safety of his yard. I like to think
Bridger was a little amused.”

*Source: Krilof and his fables, by Krylov, Ivan Andreevich, 1768-1844; Ralston, William Ralston Shedden, 1828-1889. Tr. London, 1869

N.B. My next book, Fables for Leaders, Ezis Press, comes out in September 2017 as an e-book ($3.99) and a soft cover book, ($24.99). The print book will feature original illustrations by the renowned Béatrice Coron.
ISBN: 978-0-692-90955-3
LCCN: 2017908783
Cover: "Fables for Leaders" PRE-PRINT, 203pp. 2017.
Update. The book has been printed as a Riga edition of 30, numbered copies. Ten have been given to friends and libraries in Latvia. The balance will be sent to review media in the USA.

© Copyright John Lubans 2017

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