“Well when I was little my dad told me this story about a greedy dog who had stolen a torta, which is a sandwich pretty much. The dog was walking by a river and when he looked at his reflection he thought it was another dog carrying another sandwich, so he jumped into the water wanting to take the other dog’s sandwich and in doing so he lost his own. My dad told me this in order to teach me not to be greedy.”

Daniel was born in the United States and lives in Los Angeles. His parents are from Mexico. He studies occupational therapy at the University of Southern California. His father used to tell him this tale as a child to keep him from being greedy.

While this tale does warn against greed, I believe it sends many more messages. For example, it teaches children that it is not good to value things based on their appearances. When the dog jumps in the water, it does not find in the depths what it sees on the water’s surface. In chasing the superficial, it loses what it has that is real, particularly its own sandwich.

This tale is reminiscent of the proverb “A bird in a hand is worth two in a bush,” in that they both dismiss the pursuit of overly-ambitious goals, favoring certainty over chance. In many cases, risk is identified as noble, but in this story of the dog and the sandwich, risk is seen as the result of poor perception. What was a risk in the dog’s mind should have been interpreted as a certain failure, given the fact that the dog in the river was merely his reflection. Risk, thus given its negative connotation, is a result of greed.

Annotation: A variation of this story called “The Dog and the Bone” can be found documented in Aesop’s Fables.

Aesop, and Jerry Pinkney. Aesop’s Fables. New York: SeaStar, 2000. Print.