Three Short Fables from the Philippines.

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why dogs wag tales


  • Why dogs wag their tails?
  • Why hens peck the ground?
  • Why spiders hate flies?

These fables come from the Philippines. They are bit like Aesop. We hope you will enjoy them!

Read by Geoffrey.
Proofread by Claire Deakin.
By Mabel Cook Cole (1916)

Why Dogs Wag their Tails

A rich man in a certain town once owned a dog and a cat, both of which were very useful to him. The dog had served his master for many years and had become so old that he had lost his teeth and was unable to fight anymore, but he was a good guide and companion to the cat who was strong and cunning.

The master had a daughter who was attending school at a convent some distance from home, and very often he sent the dog and the cat with presents to the girl.

One day he called the faithful animals and bade them carry a magic ring to his daughter.

“You are strong and brave,” he said to the cat. “You may carry the ring, but you must be careful not to drop it.”

And to the dog he said, “You must go with the cat to guide her and keep her from harm.”

They promised to do their best, and started out. All went well until they came to a river. As there was neither bridge nor boat, there was no way to cross but to swim.

“Let me take the magic ring,” said the dog as they were about to plunge into the water.

“Oh, no,” replied the cat, “the master gave it to me to carry.”

“But you cannot swim well,” argued the dog. “I am strong and can take good care of it.”

The cat refused to give up the ring until finally the dog threatened to bite her, and then she reluctantly gave it to him.

The river was wide and the water so swift that they grew very tired, and just before they reached the opposite bank the dog dropped the ring. They searched carefully, but could not find it anywhere, and after a while they turned back to tell their master of the sad loss. Just before reaching the house, however, the dog was so overcome with fear that he turned and ran away and never was seen again.

The cat went on alone, and when the master saw her coming he called out to know why she had returned so soon and what had become of her companion. The poor cat was frightened, but as well as she could she explained how the ring had been lost and how the dog had run away.

On hearing her story the master was very angry, and commanded that all his people should search for the dog, and that it should be punished by having its tail cut off.

He also ordered that all the dogs in the world should join in the search, and ever since when one dog meets another he says, “Are you the old dog that lost the magic ring? If so, your tail must be cut off.” Then immediately each shows his teeth and wags his tail to prove that he is not the guilty one.

Since then, too, cats have been afraid of water and will not swim across a river if they can avoid it.

And that was a tale about a tail - and why dogs wag theirs. The next story from the Philippines explains why hens always peck the ground.

The Hawk and the Hen

Hen Ring

A hawk flying about in the sky one day decided that he would like to marry a hen whom he often saw on earth. He flew down and searched until he found her, and then asked her to become his wife. She at once agreed as long as he would wait until she could grow wings like his, so that she might also fly high. The hawk agreed to this and flew away, after giving her a ring as an engagement present and telling her to take good care of it.

The hen was very proud of the ring and placed it around her neck. The next day, however, she met the cockerel who looked at her in astonishment and said, “Where did you get that ring? Do you not know that you promised to be my wife? You must not wear the ring of anyone else. Throw it away.”

The hen threw away the beautiful ring.

Not long after this the hawk came down bringing beautiful feathers to dress the hen. When she saw him coming she was frightened and ran to hide behind the door, but the hawk called to her to come and see the beautiful dress he had brought her.

The hen came out, and the hawk at once saw that the ring was gone.

“Where is the ring I gave you?” He asked. “Why do you not wear it?”

The hen was too frightened and ashamed to tell the truth so she answered, “Oh, sir, yesterday when I was walking in the garden, I met a large snake and he frightened me so that I ran as fast as I could to the house. Then I missed the ring and I searched everywhere but could not find it.”

The hawk looked sharply at the hen, and he knew that she was deceiving him.

He said to her, “I did not believe that you could behave so badly. When you have found the ring I will come down again and make you my wife. But as a punishment for breaking your promise, you must always scratch the ground to look for the ring. Every chicken of yours that I find, I shall snatch away.”

Then he flew away, and ever since all the hens throughout the world have been scratching to find the hawk’s ring. [214]

And that was the story of The Hawk and the Hen. So now you know that when hens peck the ground, they are looking for a lost ring. The next tale is very short and explains why spiders don't like flies.

The Spider and the Fly

Spider Love Trap Thumb

Mr. Spider wanted to marry Miss Fly. Many times he told her of his love and begged her to become his wife, but she always refused, for she did not like him.

One day when she saw Mr. Spider coming again, Miss Fly closed all the doors and windows of her house and made ready a pot of boiling water. She waited, and when Mr. Spider called, begging her to allow him to enter, she answered by throwing boiling water at him. This made Mr. Spider very angry and he cried, “I will never forgive you for this, but I and my descendants will always despise you. We will never give you any peace.”

Mr. Spider kept his word, and even today one can see the hatred of the spider for the fly.

And that was the third of our short folk tales from the Philippines. If you enjoyed them we have loads more stories like these on Storynory.com. For instance, you could try our Aesop's fables or the Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. You can also look through our World Fairy Tales section for more stories from just about everywhere.

For now, from me, Geoffrey