This is the second story about one of the true legends from Brockenborings, the fabulous sheepdog Ruff!
Story no 2: The Big Bad Wolf
Those of you who heard the first Ruff story will remember that Ruff was a small, sickly and scrawny pup. However, he was also clever, and he soon got the respect of everyone because of his quick mind and his clever tricks. Ruff’s brothers, though, were always a bit envious of him. They tried their best to use his own tricks against him, to make him look silly. But they rarely succeeded, because Ruff was one clever feller.
One bright day in the spring, the little lass who cared for Ruff called on him and said it was time to start guarding the sheep. ‘It is time ter prove yer worth’, she said to the little pup. ‘And yer gots ter look yer best’. She plopped Ruff into a tub and started scrubbing some patches of mud from his scrawny coat. He wriggled and moaned and whined as he was subject to the brush, but no mercy was shown. Finally, he was deemed presentable, and he ran along to the nearest flock of sheep. They were spread out over the field, and Ruff tried to gather them together.
‘Move along now’, he told the sheep. They didn’t even bat an eyelid. They just stood still, chewed the grass and bleated at each other from time to time.
Ruff tried everything. He ran around the sheep, he banged headfirst into them, he barked his loudest ‘RUFFs’. But nothing would sway the lazy livestock. Dejected, Ruff left the field, whimpering a bit for himself. He could already hear his brothers’ spiteful laughter in his ears. Oh, they would have a field day now.
Walking home, he passed the local furrier. He decided to peek inside to take his mind off them silly brothers of his. And there, an a corner, he spotted something which made another clever idea form in his mind. He saw the cleaned pelt of a wolf, head still intact. ‘I can use this’, he thought, so he dragged the pelt outside. He put it on top of a tiny cart used to drag small kegs around, and he stuffed the pelt with straws. Satisfied with his work, he dragged the cart back into the field.
Standing on a small slope overlooking the sheep, he let out a ferocious howl. Then he pushed the cart down the slope, aiming it straight for the flock. The sheep, looking up as they heard the howls, soon saw the gaping jaws of a wolf headed straight for them! Livid with fear, they bleated their loudest, then grouped together and dashed straight back towards the farm.
‘That showed them’, Ruff laughed as he rolled down the slope to recover the wolf-looking cart.
As he started to drag the cart back up the slope, he heard another howl. On the top of the hill above him, he saw another wolf head creep into view. Ruff grumbled for himself. ‘Oh, them silly brothers of mine. They knows I am out here, and they want ter try to scare me with me own trick’.
Ruff decided to teach his brothers a lesson. He ran straight up the slope. As he got near the wolf pelt, he growled and bristled his fur and looked his meanest. ‘Away with yer, vile critter! Back into the forest with yer!’, he said. Then he crouched and leaped into the air, aiming straight for the throat of the wolf.
Sinking his teeth into the fur, Ruff was ever so surprised to hear a crunchy, ripping noise. And a desperate howl made his ears ring. This was no trick wolf! It was a live one!
‘Oh dear’, Ruff thought. ‘Now I am done for’. But he locked his jaws tight, tighter than you would have thought possible for a small pup.
The wolf went wild! It ran around, rolled around, shrieking from the pain. It clawed at the fierce pup hanging from its throat. The sharp wolf claws dug into Ruff’s back, into his belly, over his eyes. While he did his best to keep his jaws shut tight, he could feel his strength fade. This could not last long.
The local farmers and their dogs heard the desperate sounds from the field, and soon they came running to. They could not believe the sight that met them. On the ground, the wolf lay crumpled, shivering! Ruff, bloodied and battered, lay on top of the wolf, keeping it down with his strong bite. The wolf drew its last wheezing breaths through its crushed throat, then lay still. And Ruff finally let go, fell to the ground and lay still himself.
The little lass that cared for Ruff rushed up to the brave little pup. She carried him home and tended to his wounds. While frightened, wounded and worn out, the pup improved quickly after a few days of tender care, biscuits and cold milk. And a week later, Ruff was again able to walk the lovely green fields outside of Brockenborings. Scrawnier than before, with many a fresh scar too, but everyone looked at him with admiration, even his envious brothers. Somehow, he looked stronger and walked taller than before. And from this day on, the sheep listened to whatever Ruff said.
In fact, as time passed, Ruff grew up to be the most reknowned sheepdog in Brockenborings. There are many tales worthy of legend told about him. But those should be told another night.
And so ends the story about how Ruff started guarding sheep.
Picture copyright: Throttler at en.wikipedia. Original version at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Collie_Puppy_2010.JPG