The cow and dog were best friends. They had been close companions for longer than any of the other animals could remember. Even the draft horse was unable to recall a time before this great friendship.
“I am pleased to see such harmony,” the draft horse said, “but it is unusual just the same. No good can come of it.”
The donkey said nothing and continued feeding. He cared only for fodder and pulling his little cart. The barn cat did not speak—she believed herself to be invisible and did not want to reveal her position. The chickens scratched and hopped around the dusty courtyard in front of the stock barn. They didn’t say anything because they are so incredibly small-minded and stupid.
“We’re right here,” said the cow, “and we can hear you talking about us!”
The dog, as was his common inclination, rolled in the dust, twisting around from time to time to bite his own tail. He made no comment—he didn’t care what the other animals thought. It made no sense to him, this chewing on words as if they were rawhide or gristle.
“What of it?” the rooster said to the cow. His plumage gleamed majestically in the sun. “Even if your companion doesn’t mind being called a fool, both of you are fools nonetheless!”
With that, the rooster half-leaped/half-flew a full three feet and landed square on top of several chickens. He clawed and pecked and tore at them to show the cow and dog he was serious. The chickens shrieked and scattered in a tornado of feathers, but were scratching around again within minutes. Resisting the urge to crow, the rooster raised his wings one at a time, preening. He strutted around the small clearing he had made within the midst of the other poultry.
“A friendship such as yours—cow and dog!” said the rooster. “It’s unnatural!”
Blinking her beautiful eyes, the cow took a step back. Her bell tinkled a couple of times and became still. The cow meant no harm to anyone in the world, which made her even more sensitive to the rooster’s harsh remarks. For his part, the dog sat and scratched at fleas until his eyes bugged and his tags jingled like a sleigh. He satisfied his itch and gazed lovingly at the cow. His tongue lolled while his tail beat the dust.
The rooster was not finished making his point. He rushed over to the cow, stopping just in front of the beast, and began pecking and clawing at the ground. His wings spread wide as if he were a very plump, practically flightless eagle.
Startled, the cow stepped back again, but this time landed her big rump in the water trough. The other animals laughed at her shock and embarrassment—they didn’t mean to, but it was so sudden and unexpected. Even the draft horse let out a choked guffaw.
“Unnatural! Unnatural! Unnatural!” shrieked the rooster. He bounced up and down, beating his wings and almost touching the cow, who writhed and bucked in her attempts to free herself. She moaned almost continuously.
“Unnatural!” the rooster screamed. “Un-na-tur-al!”
The dog came up from behind and bit the rooster. Didn’t really bite; more exactly, put the rooster’s entire head inside his mouth and clamped down. And then he shook it. One, two, three times. He dropped the lifeless bird on the ground.
Freed from the rooster, and lately the trough, the cow bowed her head and cast her soft brown eyes toward her friend. Without saying anything, the cow and dog ambled out of the courtyard and into the pasture. The cow grazed timothy and clover while the dog flushed rabbits from beneath piles of deadfall.
“It is so much better when we help each other,” the draft horse said as the chickens ate their own poop and a lot of small pebbles. “Friendship is worth the effort it takes.”
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