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Bedtime Stories: “Emilia, Who Was Not Like Other Dogs”


Emilia was not like other dogs. Born without a tail, the dog shaman foretold she would be a great blight upon her tribe, and so she was exiled from the forest forever, carried in the jowl of her mother as a pup to the edge and told she was forbidden to behold the trees. It was assumed she would die very quickly by all in the tribe, who knew what the curse entailed: a tailless dog was also a toothless dog, and without teeth you might as well not call yourself a dog. The outside world, so full of humans, would claim her, as Mother Night claims the long light of day. A young gatherer, collecting for his village’s supper, found her curled around the trunk of a tree starved but still alive, and believing her to be anything but a dog, took her home. This is no dog, the village elder confirmed. And so the young gatherer was allowed to keep Emilia as a pet. Within the village the dog was loved and cared for, fed leaves and soft bugs. There came a day the village declared war on the dogs of the forest. The night before the hunters were to set off, Emilia slipped back into the sea of trees. You are in great danger! she warned the dogs, who now looked upon her with revering eyes. But what can we do? The tribe knew there was no place else to go. So Emilia instructed them to bite off their tails. When the hunters poured into the trees they found not one dog to slay. Come home to us, the dogs then begged Emilia, but she refused. I am not a dog, she reminded them, and returned to her loyal gatherer boy.





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