Dogs Save Their Master
A Seneca Legend
There was a Seneca, who was very fond of hunting. He had two dogs that were so strong that they could kill a bear.
One winter this man started off to hunt. After traveling two days he camped and began to look for game. He hunted many days and killed a great many animals. One night, just as he was going to sleep, the dogs began to bark furiously. Not far from the camp was a large elm tree with the top broken off. The man had thought the tree was hollow, but he had never examined it. One of the dogs now ran in the direction of this tree, the other followed and by the sound of the barking the man knew that some creature was in the tree.
After a time one of the dogs came back, and said, "My brother, maybe we are going to die tonight. On the tree there is such a creature as we have never seen before. I will watch it, but mark me with a coal, from the end of my mouth to my ear, on each side."
The man did as the dog asked, then the dog said, "Now I will go to the tree and my brother can come and be marked."
He ran off and soon the other dog came and was marked, then the hunter took a torch and went to the tree.
On the broken top was a terrible creature. He could see its head and a part of its body. It had long teeth, enormous eyes, and huge claws. The man had never seen any animal so dreadful. As he went back to camp one of the dogs followed him, and said, "We shall be killed, but we will do what we can to save you. You must hurry to the village. Don't take a torch or a bow with you; they'll be in your way. Put on a new pair of moccasins and take a second pair. I'll lick the soles of your feet so you can run fast."
The dog licked his master's feet, then the man put on new moccasins and started for home. He had been running a good while when one of the dogs overtook him, and said, "Run faster, the creature has started. It doesn't travel on the ground, but leaps from tree to tree. The only thing I can do is to get between the trees and spring at it as it leaps. When you come to water, stir it up, make it as muddy as you can, then drink of the water. We drink of such water; it is better for us."
The man soon got thirsty. When he came to a spring, he stirred the water up, then drank what he wanted and went on.
He hadn't gone far when the dog came up, and said, "There is a hole in your moccasin."
The man looked and sure enough there was a hole.
"Put on new ones," said the dog,
The dog licked his master's feet and the man put on new moccasins, then the dog went back and the man hurried on.
Soon the other dog ran up, and said, "The creature is coming very fast, we are afraid it will kill you. My brother will come to you once more, but when he gets back he will be killed."
The dog disappeared. The man listened; both dogs were barking-, then one bark ceased and he knew the dog was coming to him.
"I have come," said the dog, "to speak to you once more. When I go back I shall attack the creature and do all I can to overpower it, but it will kill me."
The dog went back and the man heard both dogs bark and howl. He knew by the sound that they were fighting. Then only one dog howled; the other was dead.
The man tried to increase his speed, but it was a dark night and he ran against trees and brush. The barking ceased and scion the dog was at his side.
"My brother is dead," said he. "I am alone. The village isn't far away. You must scream. Someone may hear you."
The man began to scream as he ran.
That night there was a dance in the long house and people were sitting around outside. A young man heard the cry of someone in distress and he gave the alarm.
The dog came once more to encourage his master. "Do our best," said he, "You are near the village. I will come once more, then I will pull the creature down and fight it."
The man heard the dog when it got back and knew by the sound that the creature was getting near.
The dog came again and said, "This is the last time you will see me, I shall attack the creature and it will kill me. If the people hear your cries, they will come and rescue you, if not you will be killed."
The dog went back; he had only a short distance to go. The man saw torches; his cries had been heard.
The dog howled in distress, then all was still, and the man knew his friend was dead.
When the man saw the torches, he struggled harder and harder to get to them. As the people met him he fell.
Holding up their torches the men looked ahead and saw a terrible animal; its forelegs were longer than its hind ones. They shot at it, but it disappeared.
In one night the man had made a journey that required two days. They carried him to the village and as soon as he could talk he told what had happened. The people decided to go to the camp in the woods and bring home the meat.
Near the village they found the last dog; it was torn to pieces. Farther on they found the other dog, also torn to pieces. When they reached the camp, they saw that most of the meat had been eaten, what was left they carried home. The animal was never seen again.
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