Once upon a time, there was a pack of good-hearted dogs who were known for their good deeds, and indeed their good natures. They travelled around the town unmolested, loved by everyone they met, helping with the chores, keeping the town safe from wild animals and intruders.
The humans fed and pampered them, the other animals in the town bowed to them. Their leader, a kindly, gentle dog, was loved by all.
But there were animals in the forest who grew envious of the dogs. They hated their popularity, their good deeds, their companionship with people. They wanted what the dogs had. Most of all they wanted the chickens the humans kept, the tasty chickens the animals could not get to because they were guarded by the dogs.
The wolf gathered his companions around him. The fox came, so did the rat, the snake and the weasel.
“These dogs are not acting like animals are supposed to act,” the wolf told his followers. “They are keeping us from the chickens that are rightfully ours because we are the superior animals. We must make the humans hate these dogs. We must take from them the love and respect they receive and have them banished, if we ever want to get those chickens. I have a plan. You, fox, will be the first to lead us.”
And the fox nodded eagerly and listened to the wolf’s plan.
A few days later, when they were walking around the town, a group of dogs came across the fox whose foot appeared to be in a trap. The fox was thrashing about.
“Oh help me please,” cried the fox. “I have been caught in this terrible trap. If you don’t free me, the humans will catch and kill me because I stole one of their chickens. Please help me. I don’t want to die. I am not so different from you. I will be eternally grateful and stop stealing chickens from now on if you just get me out of this trap.”
So the dogs worked hard to free the fox from the trap. After much effort, they made it open and release the fox, who ran away without a word of thanks. But the dogs didn’t mind. They were happy just to do a good deed, and they continued on.
They never realized the fox had put its own foot in the trap to fool them. They never realized that, as soon as it was freed, the fox ran immediately to a hen house where it stole some chickens.
The wolf, meanwhile, dressed up as a dog ran to the humans and accused the dog pack of releasing the fox. It said the fox had been trapped by humans because it was stealing chickens. But, the wolf said, the dogs had let it go because the fox promised to give them free chickens from its catches, if they would free it.
“I have witnesses,” said the wolf, producing the snake and the rat, both dressed as dogs, who both said what the wolf said was true. They swore the dogs had released the fox and taken chickens from it in payment.
The humans, not suspecting any treachery from those they thought were dogs, believed the wolf and the others. Dogs, they believed, who were protecting them from the renegades in the pack. They didn’t see the disguises. And because there were chickens missing, they took the word of the wolf, the snake and the rat.
They accused the real dogs of releasing the fox to harm their chickens, and also of taking their chickens as payment. You took bribes, they said to the dogs.
“But we were trying to help it,” cried the dogs. “We did no wrong. We never touched the chickens!”
The humans didn’t care, nor believe their innocence. They turned against the dogs and stopped patting them. Stopped giving them extra food. They stopped letting them wander the town as before. They kept them away from their henhouses.