March 17, 2004
“Some Creatures and a Guard Dog”
Once upon a time there were some creatures. They always found cool fossils. They had layers of fur and could think of millions of times when they had fun together. They couldn’t fly they always stayed on the ground. They left their house millions of times. The only problem was they had to go past the bank witch was the entrince of the village. There was a gard dog at the entince. He had beaten them up many times. When the creatures were passing the bank one day they saw the gard dog. “I’ve just take a test on how to get tough, so you’ve better run for it,” said the gard dog. He rose his hand to hit them but one of the creatures said something before he could move. “Hey gard dog, we’ll bring you back some food if you let us by and be our friends,” said one of the creatures. “OK,” said the gard dog. The gard dog let them by and the creatures brought him back a nice meal. From that day one they were friends.
This ancient relic dates back to 2004, which may shed some light on the unique spelling choices of the author. Perhaps at the time, there was limited access to dictionaries, or perhaps it was the young age of the author, or maybe this was before the English guys added the “u” in “guard” for their own random delight, but “Some Creatures and a Guard Dog” (the title corrected for ease of understanding) exemplifies an intriguing range of spelling. “Entrance” is repeatedly incorrect, written in two different variations of the word! It is possible that this author, who was frequently experimental with her craft, purposely misspelled these words for a deliberate intent–the intent may have been that she was showing the adaptability of the brain to recognize words even when they are not their truest form, she was setting this particular “gard dog” apart from all the other “guard dogs” by utilizing a slightly different spelling, or it may have been that she was in a rush. But it was probably the first thing. Or the second thing.
Clearly, whatever these mysterious creatures are, they have profound memories, if they can remember “millions of times” (paragraph 1) that they had fun together. Therefore, these very hairy, ground-bound earth dwellers with incredible memories must be smaller or weaker than dogs, if they are so prone to being beat up as a group by the one “gard dog.”
The “gard dog,” on the other hand, is very dumb, it appears. “I’ve just take a test,” he says, displaying poor grammar and phrase-ology (paragraph 1). The correct phrasing would be, “I’ve just taken a test,” or “I just took a test,” which is ironic because the “gard dog” is boasting that he has recently taken a test on how to be tough, only implying that he has succeeded at the test. The irony is that tests are usually academic and if one passes, it points to intellectual competence in a certain subject, and also that just because one takes a test does not mean that they were successful on the test. So, the “gard dog”‘s comment about having recently taken a test is so pointless and so meaningless that it’s possible the creatures pitied him and saw a window of opportunity to persuade him with their clever methods rather than gang up and attempt to overcome his physical attributes.
One of my favorite things about this tale is that the creatures band together and use persuasion and non-violent means in order to deal with the “gard dog,” who was a real jerk and had even previously harmed them. This story is about forgiveness and bribing your enemies with food and threatening them with friendship in order to progress in life. It’s brain over braun, peace over hate, truce over revenge. It’s a beautiful message. It has absolutely no realistic properties to it, seeing as how a group of people could never overthrow a power structure with words alone, but it’s nice in theory.
And in fact, is it even a nice theory? The creatures convince the “gard dog” to allow them peaceful passage, and the author writes that they are friends “from that day on,” (paragraph 1) but what does that friendship entail? The creatures are essentially bribing the “gard dog” because they are somewhat intimidated by him and the hand he apparently has (maybe this was a medical procedure that he had to affix a human extremity to his back; the ambiguity of the “creatures'” appearances and the creative spelling of “gard dog” lead one to question this character’s anatomy). They are bribing him with food, which can be seen as a peace offering, but perhaps it represents the corruption of our justice system. In order for these creatures to be “in” with the protector of the bank, they have to offer the “gard dog” something. He would not let them by without the food, it seems. And after the creatures and the “gard dog” team up, do they become a sort of group that perpetuates beating up animals that pass by the bank–now the creatures are “in” on it, too, and they seek benefits out of those outside of their group? Or do we choose to believe in the goodness of the creatures and that they abstain from this practice, and maybe even convert the “gard dog” to a life of peace and love, so that he no longer beats up any animal, thus proving his wholesomeness of character, yet also displaying his horrible new work ethic in failing to guard the bank, seeing as how he was hired to guard (presumably) the bank. And if they do end up leading a life of corruption, does that corruption at all ever seep into the spoils of the bank? Are the creatures and the “gard dog” laundering money in the end? But money can ruin friendships…
Additionally, I cannot let the “bank witch” phrase go without remark (paragraph 1). At first read, one may merely make the spelling correction in their head, transforming the “witch” to “which” without second thought, but if a second thought was granted, one may begin to question the whole story. Perhaps the “gard dog” is not guarding (presumably) a bank, but indeed a bank witch, a witch who runs a bank, or who freelances in finance. Perhaps this is a subtle key to understanding the whole story–the witch has put a hex on the dog so that he must guard her, so that he has a hand, so that he is hungry and under-fed, and so that he is menacing, and it is only the love and friendship of a rag-tag group of creatures that breaks the curse and allows him to work as an inside dog in the evil business of the witch. Therefore, because it appears as though he continues to guard even after he lets the creatures pass by, it makes sense that he would continue to act as though everything is normal in front of the witch, but he is secretly feeding information and undermining her operations with the assistance of his new friends, the creatures.
All in all, this rich literary work has continued to baffle and intrigue readers for ages. Its ambiguity is just ambiguous enough to provide a wealth of reading-between-the-lines, yet enough concrete information to make the story stand impeccably on its own.