May 13, 2021

#08-083: Call of the Wild

black-and-white illustration of a snow-covered clearing with a white dog (back to the viewer) facing a snarling darker dog; a group of huskie- or wolf-like dogs look on
Buck fights Spitz

Note: You never know what a pampered pup can do until he faces his feral fellows, and emerges as a leader.

Get Ready: Have you ever considered the close relationship between our pets and their wild forebears? There's a wolf lurking in every dog!

It's 1897, and Buck is part of the family of a judge named Miller.

Buck is a big dog: a 64-kilo St. Bernard-Scotch Collie mix, to be exact. Judge Miller's gardener needs money, and so he steals Buck and sells him to a stranger. This starts Buck's long, strange journey back to the wild, in California author Jack London's famous novel, The Call of the Wild.

Buck is shipped from California to Washington state, and from there--after some abuse, which teaches him the "law of club and fang"--he is sold to two French-Canadians working for their government, who take him to Alaska, the staging area for the Klondike Gold Rush. 

Buck is trained to pull a mail sled with a team of other dogs, who teach him the survival skills needed in an environment very different from the pleasant Central California valley where he grew up. After suffering under the savagery of the lead dog, a white husky named Spitz, Buck kills him and becomes leader himself. Under Buck's leadership, the team sets a new record for a round-trip on the Yukon Trail.

But the team is sold to an abusive man who, after wearing the team out, sells them to three "greenhorns" who end up losing most of the dogs to illness and death. Only Buck and four others (of 14) survive. The owners force the dogs to push on against the advice of John Thornton, an experienced outdoorsman. When Thornton sees one of the greenhorns whipping Buck mercilessly, he punches the man and frees Buck. The small team of remaining dogs and humans breaks through ice and drowns in a river.

Buck and Thornton bond, and each saves the other in various situations. At last, they settle in the wilderness in relative ease, where Buck hears "the call of the wild" and begins spending some of his time with a lone wolf. When a hostile Native American kills Thornton (and his companions), Buck avenges his death. He then joins his lone "brother," learning that he is in fact part of a pack, of which Buck becomes leader.

The story of this "Ghost Dog" spreads through the Native American tribes of the territory, as he periodically attacks them again to commemorate the death of Thornton and his friends, "as he sings a song of the younger world, which is the song of the pack."


Read more:

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. abuse
  2. avenges
  3. bond
  4. drowns
  5. fang
  6. greenhorns
  7. mercilessly
  8. savagery
  9. sled
  10. staging area

  1. people with little experience outside of cities
  2. gets revenge for
  3. a place where things are made ready
  4. develop a close relationship
  5. viciousness; cruelty
  6. a platform on runners for traveling over snow
  7. dies in water
  8. without pity
  9. a long, sharp tooth
  10. mistreatment

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for May 13, 2021

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. j; 2. b; 3. d; 4. g; 5. i; 6. a; 7. h; 8. e; 9. f; 10. c