Fiction: ‘The Pup’, and ‘Wolf’

This scene is from a long ago prose project—looks like the one on memoiring—the first time I wrote anything with a dog in it.

Evanna woke to the rasp of a stainless steel food bowl being shoved across the old concrete laundry floor in the back of the house. That’d be the pup trying to get food by vigorously licking an empty bowl. There was silence in the rest of the house though it was time to get up. Get up, she said to herself, and felt herself dozing on. Get up, she thought at herself again, opening one eye to check the time. My god, is that the time?

She leapt out of bed and jumped into an old tracksuit, not forgetting to slip her spectacles into her pocket. Couldn’t bear to wear them this early in the morning. She knocked forcefully on the bedroom door of young son, the Half-Grown Hunk, until he answered just as forcefully.

The back of the house was alive with animal sounds. The cat miaowing at the back door to be let in. The chickens clucking for their grain. The Childdog scratching at the inside of the laundry door to be let out for her big good morning welcome, and a quick pit stop. In the middle of her routine, the Half-Grown Hunk wandered through.

The pup immediately transferred her attention to her chosen pack-leader, leaving Evanna to attend to the chooks, put a load of washing into the machine, read the rain gauge, shake the pup’s bedding and put it out to air, and finally clip the pup onto her long lead so that she didn’t raise Cain in the backyard while her humans had their breakfast.

Chores this morning were a load of washing, a 24-hour collection of the dishes, sweeping, and mopping a couple of floors. The pup was distraught when she was shut from the excitement of the sweeping broom, when Evanna lost her patience the third time the broom head came off in the dog’s jaws. The chores were followed with a quick training game with the dog … Sit, stay, good dog. Evanna walked five paces. Come. The Childdog came.

Six out of ten this morning. After the game, the pup was put back into laundry with a bone, fresh water, and her bed.

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The second dog I’ve written was to give Beren of Lotor a companion. This YA story is set in the time when humans, already having colonised Moera, a (fictional) planet in the (actual) Procyon Two-Star System, turned their attention to the second (also fictional) liveable planet in that system. This was Lotor, unbeknowest to them, a living entity. The humans brought their animals and Lotor produced analogues. Not yet published.

The Plan
The dogs looked up. Their eyes glowed like coals though they were blind to the red light. They belonged to the invaders and were as blind as them to the light of their own dying star. Though the dogs were his friends.

Wolf most of all. He got all of Beren’s special patting and cuddling. The soft, wriggling pups were good too. They found him by smell alone and licked him blindly with their warm wet tongues. When he came from his attic, he always dropped down into the dog-box and hid the end of the rope in the gap between the box wall and the stable’s outside wall. The head stable lad might be friendly, but there were the rest of them. A rope out of sight was a rope out of mind.

The dog-box walls were still too high for him to see over. And smooth on the inside to stop the dogs getting out, so no climbing up them either so Kandor let Beren have a latch on the inside, at his own level.

He slipped out the half door with Wolf beside him though it was still nighttime to Wolf. The horses, because they were Lotor horses, were awake and watching with their eyes a-glow like golden jewels. Twenty pairs followed his every move. Wolf padded at Beren’s left side so he wouldn’t get trodden on with the hard tip of the crutch.

Beren’s left foot was a human foot and his right foot was a hoof.

“Lotor doesn’t have the pattern for people off by heart yet,” Dev said once. Dev was the head stable lad. “There are people all over the planet with bits of their bodies that weren’t human. So you’re in good company.”

Beren didn’t know if he believed it. Dev never showed him the bit he had that was wrong. Maybe Dev joked. But still, Beren was afraid to think of the day Dev would decide to stop being a lad and decide he was a man.

The tack room was at the front on the right, then the feed store.

Wolf stood beside Beren to prop him up while he stacked hay biscuits on his left arm. “Good boy.”

Wolf turned when Beren turned so he was always on Beren’s left side. They slap-thocked to the horses leaning over their half-walls and doors while they talk to him and to each other, whinnying and blowing their bronze-colored hair from their eyes.

He put their breakfast biscuits through the slot above their feed tubs. He talked at them. “Good girl. Good boy.” Bet whiffed him in his face and blew his hair – mouse grey Kandor called it – out of his eyes. Wolf pressed his furry warm side against his leg. This was his favourite time of the day.

The dust Wolf and Beren stirred up with their comings and goings sparkled in the pink light as he walked Wolf back to the dog box. When Wolf figured out where they were going, he made a noise in his throat. Like he said, what are you up to now?

“It’s all right, boy. I’m thirteen. I’m allowed.” But Beren hesitated shutting Wolf in. But then, what if Wolf got excited and ran in under the jenny? No, it really was better to shut him into the dog-box. “It’ll be safer, Wolfie.”

Wolf whined, telling him he wanted to join Beren whatever he did.

“Be quiet, Wolf. This is something I need to do by myself.” He push at Wolf with his knee and Wolf went reluctantly into the box. Beren snicked shut the dog box using the high latch on the outside.

Words: Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

Grey wolf, Canis lupus, single mammal on snow, captive

Type ‘dog’ into your search engine and you will get the facts about dogs, their history of domestication, the variety of dog breeds, the origins of the word ‘dog’. Everything you might want to know about Canis lupus familiaris. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog#Terminology.

There are hundreds of dog related metaphors. I wouldn’t be surprised if you know a few more than are described here: https://symbolismandmetaphor.com/dog-metaphors-similes-idioms/

BUT … all the above were not the concepts I had in mind when I started this research. I wanted to know how dogbox, dogger, dogging & dogman fitted into the word ‘cloud’ to do with dog. How these words originated. Have they anything to do with the canine subject of the title?

Apart from ‘dogger’ hard to find.

So. Dogger. Is not originally an English word. It’s an Old Dutch word for codfish. Pronunciation, I assume, is with the Dutch/Scottish -ch-. The boats the Dutch used to go fishing for codfish became known as ‘doggers’; then the place in the North Sea where they usually went fishing got the name Dogger Bank. Now sometimes known as Doggerland. Quite a bit if interesting reading about that: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/aug/01/doggerland-lost-atlantis-of-the-north-sea-gives-up-its-ancient-secrets

Dogbox, dogman and dogging. The only place i found mention of them is in the Australian construction industry.

“To safely sling a load, it requires an understanding of the suitability of the lifting gear, as well as what method of slinging is required. Further consideration of the nature of the load, such as its mass and centre of gravity, is also a factor. The Dogman course teaches you the basics to get the load moved safely.” https://constructiontraining.com.au/courses/dogging-courses.html

At the bottom of that page: “The simple explanation is that a dogman, colloquially known as a dogger, is the person. The actual task – the slinging techniques or guiding of loads mentioned above – is called dogging work.” The basket used to lift a load of smaller items is referred to as the ‘dogbox’.

Finally, back to Canis familiaris, in Australia someone culling feral dogs is also called a dogman.

Any other interesting uses out there of this three letter word?