A  short story highlighting the importance of inclusion and diversity through the eyes of a dog pack

By Darren McManus, Grade 7, Almonte District High School

Once upon a time, there were a group of dogs who lived in a forest in a distant, magical, majestic place. Two of the dogs were named Hugo and Charlie. Hugo was usually referred to as the “wise one”  as he was the leader of the group and had been around for many years and he knew more than any other dog could even imagine – he knew everything there was to know. Charlie aspired to be as smart and as wise as Hugo was. Hugo would tell stories of his childhood and how he would have to hunt all by himself with no group because he had grown up as an orphan. He had no parents, or at least none that he knew of. Charlie had made many friends as each day he would venture off deep into the forest to find new groups and make new friends. He met all kinds of different dogs and had learned so much about all different kinds of dogs. Charlie was very open minded to each dog’s opinions and tried to see both sides and he had therefore changed his mind about many things many times.

One day Charlie ventured off deeper into the woods than he ever had before, he was really far into the woods this time. What came with venturing oh so deep into the woods is that he found dogs that were so different than any others he had ever met. He saw dogs with grey spots, dogs that were super tiny, dogs that were massive and towered over him, and he met so many dogs with such different personalities and beliefs. This day he met one dog – but this was no ordinary dog. He had never seen a dog like this one before. It … it was wearing a blue collar!!! Charlie thought to himself: how – how could this be? The dog introduced himself.

“Hey, I’m Doug what is your name?” he said cheerfully.

Charlie tried to speak but the words … the words, they just couldn’t come out. It was just so shocking. He was really wearing a blue collar! Charlie didn’t realize how long he had been standing there staring, mouth wide open,

“Hey! You ok there dude?” blurted out Doug.

Charlie realized the awkwardness of the situation and suddenly said,

“Sorry, but … but I just can’t believe … I can’t believe that you are wearing a blue collar!”

“Oh this?” Doug looked down at his chest, “I’ve been wearing this my whole life. Why do you ask?”

“Well it’s just that I have never seen a dog with a blue collar!” exclaimed Charlie. “I … I thought that dogs could only wear red collars.”

“Oh… Really? My whole group wears different coloured collars…” said Doug, “Here! come with me and I will show you!”

And so, Doug and Charlie ventured off to Doug’s group. When they arrived, Charlie was astonished! There were so many dogs wearing all different colours of collars! He was speechless. Charlie bonded with his new friends for a while and he was so excited to tell Hugo! He sprinted all the way back to his group where he found Hugo lying on his bed. Hugo had the comfiest bed – it was made out of the softest moss they could find.

“Hugo! Hugo!” shouted Charlie

“My dear boy, what is it that could have bothered you so much, dear Charlie?” Hugo said in a slightly disgruntled voice.

“Hugo you won’t believe it! You won’t believe it!” exclaimed Charlie.

“I’m listening…” said Hugo.

“So, today I ventured off way deep into the woods and you won’t believe what I found!” Charlie said so quickly it was hard to make out the words

“I saw dogs of all different kinds, big ones, small ones, all kinds of different ones and then I found another dog and he was named Doug, but I couldn’t believe my eyes! He was wearing a blue collar!”

“Oh, you silly boy, dogs can’t wear blue collars, all dogs wear red collars. Didn’t I teach you this when you were just a pup?” Hugo said confidently.

“Yeah you taught me that, but Hugo, you have to believe me. Doug was wearing a blue collar! And there were also a bunch of dogs from his group as well that all wore different coloured collars! There were blue collars, green collars purple collars and even yellow col-”

“Boy you are just being ridiculous now” Hugo interrupted in a stern voice.

“Hugo I’m not lying they had all different coloured collars!”

“Ok boy, if this is true why don’t you show me these dogs with all different coloured collars?” Hugo asked jokingly.

“Ok great!” Charlie exclaimed.

“Come with me!”

Hugo stood there stunned for a moment. He didn’t expect him to say yes!

“Come on!” said Charlie.

And so Hugo followed him down the path to Doug’s group.

“This better not be some kind of sick prank boy!” Hugo said. Charlie ignored him. They continued to walk down the path until they were greeted by an excited Doug.

“Hello again Charlie! And you must be Hugo! Charlie has told me so much about you! Its nice to finally meet” greeted Doug. Hugo stood staring; mouth wide open just as Charlie did. Charlie laughed.

“See Hugo! I told you dogs can wear blue collars” said Charlie optimistically. At this point Hugo was still staring at Doug’s chest. He slowly raised his head but still was maintaining eye contact with the collar.

“He … he has a blue collar!” Hugo exclaimed without breaking eye contact with the collar. “I… I just never thought a dog could wear a blue collar! I have been taught all my life, that dogs wear red collars! My whole group wears red collars.” Doug was smiling. He said, “Come with me Hugo” and took Charlie and Hugo back to his group. When they arrived, Hugo was astonished! There were so many dogs with all different coloured collars! It was just as Charlie described! It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. That same day Hugo met dozens of new friends and he met Stacy. Stacy was wonderful! She wore a nice magenta collar. But the best thing about Stacy was that she was so kind. Stacy was Hugo’s new best friend. Hugo and Charlie went back to the group. But when they arrived, they had a surprise! They had gathered extra multi-coloured collars from Doug’s group and brought them back to their group. And they let each dog pick their own collar. Some of the dogs were confused and just stuck with their red collars, but most dogs were delighted to see other collars and picked a new colour immediately. This made Hugo extremely happy. He was proud of himself. He was wrong. And he was happy to admit that, because that means he had learned something new today.

“Charlie, my boy” said Hugo proudly.

“Yes Hugo?” Charlie said excitedly.

“Charlie, I have learned something new today” he continued, “and that is all because of you. I am now wiser than I was yesterday. I have now realized that maybe I don’t know alllll there is to know. Maybe there is always something to be learned. And Charlie, today you have opened up my eyes. And you have made me realize that I should always accept other dog’s opinions and beliefs even if they do not compute with mine. Charlie, you have opened up my eyes. And that is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Today I found that maybe I am not the wise one. Charlie, you are the wise one here”. Charlie was crying like he never had before. He felt so proud. “And Charlie,” Hugo continued,  “because of this, I am happy to announce that you will be co-leader of this group along side me.” Hugo finished, tearing up too. This was the best day of Charlie’s life. He was going to be co-leader of the group alongside the dog he aspired to be like. Charlie was as happy as could be. And so, Charlie, Hugo and their group lived happily ever after.