The Dog

J. M. Coetzee

Read time: about 2 minutes

I have been eyeing ‘Disgrace’ by J. M. Coetzee since about six years now. I haven’t possessed the book yet. I call it possess because I do already have enough books to read for another five years but my lust for them never satiates. Anyways, I came across this beautiful story on ‘The New Yorker’ which has been my go-to place when it comes to short fiction.

This particular story is about ‘She’. She passes the same house twice a day. The uphill climb is tedious. She finds the same dog barking furiously at every time she comes across that house. The downhill walk is faster though. Towards the end she breathes a sigh of relief after her daily turmoil. The dog’s hatred towards her is a peculiar kind. ‘From his yellow eyes she feels hatred of the purest kind shining upon her.’

How does the dog know that, despite her mask of indifference, she fears him? The answer: because she gives off the smell of fear, because she cannot hide it.

After days of being humiliated by the dog she decides ‘not today’. She rings the bell of the dog owner’s house, while the dog is enclosed in a garden filled with weeds. She approaches the owners and asks them to introduce her to the dog so that he knows she is not the enemy. They out-rightly refuse since he is meant to be “Un chien de garde,” a guard dog. They find it convenient to treat her as the enemy just so it provides them a pseudo layer of security that comes with owning a fearful weapon.

because it suits this woman to treat her as an enemy she will continue to be an enemy.

This story is the shortest I have read till now for 365stories but it has rung the loudest. It judiciously talks about the enemies that we make, the enemies that we earn and enemies we believe we have but they are just other people on the planet earth. While it did not hurt the dog owners very much but ‘She’ disliked the way the dog ran chills up her spine, made her feel small in a way, smelt fear on her like he could smell sex on a bitch on heat. She just wanted to make friends with him, to tell him she was not the enemy. But she ends up cursing him to hell. “Curse you to hell!” she says. this story reflects on all the chances that we ever had to make the world a better place but ended up making enemies instead. Read the story for free here

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Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH