Once upon a time, as many other times back then, there was a little puppy named Fido. He was small, but he was going to grow up fast. That’s why he and other puppies were sent to a special school, where he would learn how to behave to become better friends and supporters of people.
At this school, he was going to learn several skills: swim, fetch objects, when to bite, when to bark, how and how long to wag his tail, how to salivate, how to eat, etc.
The other puppies each had different levels of training in puppyhood. However, they all proudly and ceaselessly longed for the status of man’s best friend. There was also a hierarchy of the best-trained puppies upon the completion of this school and, depending on their results, they had the chance to find a master.
Some puppies had a better pedigree: their parents were race dogs, or winners of beauty trophies, or circus stars, or lifeguards, or dogs in anti-drug fighting teams. One of them even had an ancestor who had been the dog of a soldier whose life he saved in a war. A great honor to have the opportunity to rise to such a standard in the family… he thought!
Fido had to make an extra effort to train at the same level as the other puppies. What many didn’t know was that Fido wasn’t getting enough food. Portions were calculated based on the breed of each puppy. It’s just that what Fido was getting wasn’t enough for HIM. He always felt hungry, but whenever he dared to eat anything other than what he was offered, he was punished with contemptuous and scornful looks from his colleagues and with condescending looks and barking from teachers.
Less than two weeks after the school start, it seemed that the school’s new students had already managed to find their future areas of success: Atlantis was good at swimming, Aristocrat had a very straight walk, Beauty was admired for his moves, Blossom always had a questioning look and soon became known as the most curious dog, Buffy was the cat hunter, Columbus found the cracks in the fences in record time, Athlete had impressive running speed, Consuela was a very good and prompt listener, while Cookie wagged his tail faster than a helicopter! Fido, however, nothing. Fido didn’t make a brilliant figure or excel at any activity. Sometimes he wondered what he would do after he finished school. People usually want a puppy that is very good at something, to prove its usefulness, otherwise, no one would take it.
One of those training days, however, was stuck in Fido’s mind: it was the day he learned how to wag his tail. The teachers didn’t understand why Fido was wagging his tail so slowly. He had to wag his tail fast to show that he was happy. Fido, however, even if he couldn’t manage to wag it fast, was wagging it constantly, at the same pace, which was especially difficult for the other puppies and even for some of the teachers. The chief instructor called Fido to his management cage and asked him:
“Hey Fiddy, what’s up with you? Bow-wow!”
“I don’t understand what you’re saying. And my name is Fido”.
“Why won’t you wag your tail like the other dogs? You wag it constantly. And you have not yet lived up to your high name!”
“I don’t understand. None of my colleagues wags his tail the same way. Me neither”.
“On the contrary! You are the one who always wags his tail the SAME way! What serious dog have you ever seen wagging his tail at the same pace? Bow-wow, your master can set his watch as you wag your tail!”
“I don’t understand why I have to wag my tail so hard. I don’t understand why it’s wrong”.
“There is nothing that would make you so happy all the time!”
“It’s not about that. It’s just what I do. Why is it not enough?”
“Listen here, Fido boy, look at you: you constantly have the same results on all the tests: you are average. You are not too good at either running, barking, guarding the yard, or fetching the stick! What will become of you? What do you want to do in life?”
“Well, I do not know. Should I have known?”
“Well, do you think this is a school of spastics? What planet are you coming from? The purpose of a school is for you to learn, but you don’t make any progress in any way! Do you want to become a stray dog?”
“Excuse me, Your Canine Highness, but my intelligence is not in my tail, but in my head. Should I just wag my tail just like everyone else, sometimes slower, sometimes faster?”
“Fido boy, you do as I tell you, otherwise it will be trouble! If you don’t calm down, we will reduce your food ration, as you seem t have too much energy!”
And Fido went on with his training as before. What the puppy school’s head instructor hadn’t noticed was that each of the dogs that excelled in one area had low or even poor performances in other areas: Atlantis was scared of other animals, Aristocrat couldn’t jump through fire circles, Beauty couldn’t guard the yard, Buffy had no patience to listen, Columbus left in the morning and returned in the evening or the next day, Athlete couldn’t wag his tail either, while Cookie was a very slow runner.
However, little by little, Fido began to get better at each of the disciplines; however, he would only wag his tail at the same constant pace.
Once, an important master came to the puppy school to choose a dog. He said:
“I want a dog that is good at everything!”
“We don’t have a good dog that is good at everything. However, we have a puppy that has achieved similar performances in almost all tests. It’s just that …
“I want to see him!”
The man looked at Fido, who was wagging his tail constantly and just as slowly, and noted:
“This is an odd dog! I do not know why, but I’ll take him!”
“Good, but … we have better dogs … dogs with performances, with pedigrees!”
“Well … is he sick? Does it have parasites? Does he lack anything?”
“Good. Then I take him”.
When he heard this, Fido began to rejoice and wag his tail harder. Still constantly. This is why his master named him Konstanz. Fido had heard so many times the reproach that he was constantly wagging his tail, that this seemed to be a name better than Fido.
Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2016-present Translation by Cristiana Brezeanu of the therapeutical metaphor “Şcoala pentru căţei “ published initially by Marcus Victor Grant in Romanian on the 26th of August 2019 on Discerne. Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved. Originally written in 2016.
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