The War between the Village Animals and the Forest Animals

folktales of Aarne-Thompson type 104
(reclassified as type 103 by Hans-Jörg Uther)
translated and edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 2000-2008


  1. Old Sultan (Germany).

  2. The Dog and the Wolf (Bohemia).

  3. Related Links.

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

Old Sultan


A farmer had a faithful dog named Sultan, who had grown old and lost all his teeth, and could no longer hold onto anything. One day the farmer was standing with his wife before the house door, and said, "Tomorrow I intend to shoot Old Sultan. He is no longer of any use."

His wife, who felt pity for the faithful animal, answered, "He has served us so long, and been so faithful, that we might well give him his keep."

"What?" said the man. "You are not very bright. He doesn't have a tooth left in his mouth, and no thief is afraid of him. He can go now. If he has served us, he has eaten well for it."

The poor dog, who was lying stretched out in the sun not far off, heard everything, and was sorry that tomorrow was to be his last day. He had a good friend, the wolf, and he crept out in the evening into the forest to him, and complained of the fate that awaited him.

"Listen, kinsman," said the wolf, "be of good cheer. I will help you out of your trouble. I have thought of something. Tomorrow, early in the morning, your master is going with his wife to make hay, and they will take their little child with them, for no one will be left behind in the house. While they are at work they lay the child behind the hedge in the shade. You lie down there too, just as if you wanted to guard it. Then I will come out of the woods, and carry off the child. You must run swiftly after me, as if you would take it away from me. I will let it fall, and you will take it back to its parents, who will think that you have rescued it, and will be far too grateful to do you any harm. On the contrary, you will be treated royally, and they will never let you want for anything again."

This idea pleased the dog, and it was carried out just as planned. The father screamed when he saw the wolf running across the field with his child, but when Old Sultan brought it back, he was full of joy, and stroked him and said, "Not a hair of yours shall be hurt. You shall eat free bread as long as you live."

And to his wife he said, "Go home at once and make Old Sultan some bread soup that he will not have to bite. And bring the pillow from my bed. I will give it to him to lie on. From then on Old Sultan was as well off as he could possibly wish.

Soon afterwards the wolf visited him, and was pleased that everything had succeeded so well. "But, kinsman," he said, "you will just close one eye if, when I have a chance, I carry off one of your master's fat sheep."

"Don't count on that," answered the dog. "I will remain true to my master. I cannot agree to that."

The wolf thought that this was not spoken in earnest, and he crept up in the night to take away the sheep. But the farmer, to whom the faithful Sultan had told the wolf's plan, was waiting for him and combed his hair cruelly with a flail. The wolf had to flee, but he cried out to the dog, "Just wait, you scoundrel. You'll regret this."

The next morning the wolf sent the boar to challenge the dog to come out into the forest and settle the affair. Old Sultan could find no one to be his second but a cat with only three legs, and as they went out together the poor cat limped along, stretching its tail upward with pain.

The wolf and his friend were already at the appointed place, but when they saw their enemy coming, they thought that he was bringing a saber with him, for they mistook the cat's outstretched tail for one. And when the poor animal hopped on three legs, they thought that each time it was picking up a stone to throw at them. Then they took fright. The wild boar crept into the underbrush and the wolf jumped up a tree.

As the dog and the cat approached, they wondered why no one was to be seen. The wild boar, however, had not been able to hide himself completely in the leaves. His ears were still sticking out. While the cat was looking cautiously about, the boar wiggled his ears, and the cat, who thought it was a mouse, jumped on it and bit down hard. The boar jumped up screaming loudly, "The guilty one is up in the tree."

The dog and cat looked up and saw the wolf, who was ashamed for having shown such fear, and who then made peace with the dog.

The Dog and the Wolf


Once upon a time there was a peasant family who had a watchdog named Sultan among their household animals. The dog grew old, and, thinking that he could no longer properly attend to to his duties, the peasant chased him away. Dejected and with his head hanging low, the dog left the village, complaining to himself, "So this is my reward for loyalty at a difficult job. After using up my youthful and energetic years at work, they chase me away and grant me no rest now that I am old and weak."

He sadly went his way, wandering aimlessly about for many days without finding any tolerable shelter. Emaciated and weak from his long journey, he came to a forest. A wolf came out of the forest, ran up to the poor dog, and cried, "Stop, old fellow! Beware, you are now in my power."

Hearing the wolf speak in this manner, the frightened old Sultan said, "Dear friend, just take a good look at me, and your appetite for me will disappear. I would make the worst roast you have ever had, for I am nothing but skin and bones. But I do have some advice for you."

The wolf said, "I don't need any advice from you, you miserable creature. I know what you will say even before you speak, namely that I should let you live. No, I won't change my mind. The long and the short of it is that I am going to eat you."

To this the dog answered, "I wouldn't think of asking that of you, for I do not want to live any longer. Bite away as long as you want to. But I still have good advice for you. Wouldn't it be better to fatten me up before eating me? You wouldn't loose anything on the feed, because you would get it all back on me. Then I'd make a decent roast. What do you think, Brother Wolf?"

The wolf spoke, "I'll do it, if the feeding doesn't take too long. Follow me to my hut."

The dog did this, and together they went deeper into the woods. Arriving at the hut, Sultan crept inside, while the wolf went forth to hunt some game for the weak dog. When he returned, he threw his capture to Sultan, who ate it with relish.

The next day the wolf came and spoke to the dog, "Yesterday you ate. Today I will eat."

The dog replied, "What are you thinking of, dear wolf? I scarcely felt yesterday's food in my stomach."

To be sure, this irritated the wolf, but he had to be happy with going into the woods again to hunt game for the dog. With similar responses, our Sultan put off the wolf as long as he was not strong enough to take on the wolf. The wolf continued to hunt and to bring the dog whatever he captured, eating little or nothing himself so that Sultan would have enough. Thus the dog grew ever stronger, while the opposite was true for the wolf.

On the sixth day the wolf came to the dog and spoke, "I believe that you are ready now."

Sultan answered, "Yes indeed. To be sure, I feel so well that I will take you on unless you set me free."

The wolf spoke, "You are joking! Just think, I have been feeding you for six days now, while eating nothing myself. Now am I to go away with nothing? That will never do!"

To this Sultan responded, "You are partially right, but does that give you the right to eat me up?"

"That is the right of the strong over the weak," answered the wolf.

"Right on!" replied the dog. "And thus you have pronounced judgment on yourself." With these words he made a daring leap, and before the wolf knew it, he was lying on the ground, overpowered by Sultan.

"Because you allowed me to live, I will not kill you immediately, but rather submit your life to fate. Choose two companions, and I will do the same. Tomorrow come to this place in the woods with them, and we will settle our dispute."

The two separated to seek out their fellow warriors. Angrily, the wolf went deeper into the woods. The dog hurried to the nearest village. After much pleading, the wolf got an ill-tempered, grumbling bear and a sly fox to be his comrades.

Our Sultan ran first to the parsonage, where he talked a large gray cat into going with him. Then he went to the town judge's barnyard where he found a brave rooster as a second fellow warrior.

It was just getting light, and the dog was already underway with his two companions. They had what they needed. He might even surprise his enemies while they were still deep in sleep.

The wolf was the first one to awaken. He woke his comrades, then said to the bear, "You can climb trees, can't you? Be so good as to climb that tall fir tree and see if you can't get a glimpse of our enemies."

The bear did this, and from the top of the tree he cried down, "Flee! Our enemies are very near, and what powerful enemies they are! One of them is riding proudly along, carrying many sharp sabers. They glisten strongly in the morning sun. Another one is walking stealthily after him, pulling a long iron rod behind. Woe unto us!"

The fox was so frightened at these words, that he decided it would be advisable to make himself scarce. The bear hurriedly climbed down from the tree and crept into some thick brush, so that only the tip of his tail was showing.

The enemy was now at hand. The wolf, seeing that his friends had deserted him, tried to get away, but Sultan confronted him. One leap, and the dog had the wolf by the back of his neck, and he finished him off. Meanwhile, the cat noticed the tip of the bear's tail moving in the brush. Hoping to catch a mouse, she snapped at it. Terrified, the bear jumped from his hiding place and fled in all haste up a tree, where he thought he would be safe from the enemy.

But he was wrong, because the rooster was there as well. Seeing the bear in the tree, the rooster jumped from one branch to the next, always going higher and higher. The bear was beside himself. Terrified, he fell from the tree and lay there stone dead. And thus the battle ended.

The news of the brave deeds of Sultan and his companions spread far and wide, also to the village where Sultan had formerly served. As a consequence, the peasant family took back their loyal watchdog and cared for him.

Related Links

Revised May 11, 2008.