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Why Dogs Have Long Tongues


A long time ago when the animals were like people, most dogs were great talkers and liked to tell everything they knew. In those days there were not as many dogs as now, but almost every family kept a few hounds to take with them on hunts. A Caddo named Flying Hawk did not have a dog because he hated to have someone always tattling on him and telling everything he did. But he was a good hunter, and knew that he could bring back much more meat for his family if he had a trustworthy dog to help him find wild game.

One day a friend offered Flying Hawk his choice of a small puppy from a litter, and he decided to take one and try to teach it not to talk so much. He took the puppy home, and every day he spent several hours trying to teach it not to be a tattler like other dogs. The puppy soon grew big enough to be taught to hunt, and Flying Hawk began taking it out to track rabbits and other small game.

Every time that Flying Hawk killed any game, however, the dog would sneak back to the Caddo village on Red River and tell everybody about it. Then he would return to Flying Hawk in a roundabout way and come up to him from behind as though he had been there hunting all the time. Flying Hawk soon discovered that the dog was deceiving him, and he punished and scolded the animal. After each punishment the dog would stop running off and tattling for a little while, but soon he would begin again.

After a while the dog was big enough to go far away into the high timber to hunt with his master. One day Flying Hawk packed a supply of food and told the dog they were going to the Ouachita Mountains to hunt for several days. He loaded his horses with provisions and started out, with the dog his only companion. Three days of travelling brought them to the mountains and there they made camp.

"We are a long distance from our village," Flying Hawk said to his dog. "But if you go back there ahead of me and tell everything about this hunt, I will pull out your tongue."

They hunted for several days and killed many game animals. As soon as the horses were packed with all the meat they could carry, Flying Hawk and his dog broke camp and started home. During the first day's journey the dog disappeared. Flying Hawk called and searched for hours and at last decided to return to the camp-site, thinking that the dog might have lost its way and gone back there. He could not find it anywhere, however, and after another day of searching gave up the dog for lost and again started home.

Flying Hawk was so sure that he had broken the dog of sneaking home and telling everything, that he did not even consider the possibility that it might have gone on ahead of him to the Caddo village. But a few days later when he brought his laden horses home he found the dog sitting there under a tree telling tall tales about the large number of bears, mountain lions, deer and coyotes that it had tracked for Flying Hawk in the high timber.

At the sight of his prattling dog, Flying Hawk became angrier than he ever had before. "I warned you," he shouted, "that if you ran home ahead of me and told everything you know, that I would pull out your tongue!" He caught the dog and gave it a sound whipping. Being still very angry, he grabbed hold of the dog's tongue, pulled it out as far as he could, and then ran a stick across its mouth. Ever since then dogs have had long tongues and big mouths.


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The Indigenous Peoples' Literature pages were researched and organized by Glenn Welker.