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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Babbitt - The Elephant and the Dog - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

 Back on June 6 of 2015 I first posted about Ellen C. Babbitt and her Jataka Tales and the sequel, More Jataka Tales.  This makes the fifth story from those collections which are always enjoyable.  At the end of that first time I mentioned several other stories I particularly love and this was the last one listed.  In looking for stories of friendship, this one must  be given.  Last week I mentioned next summer many libraries will be thinking of Kindness, Friendship and Unity because of the Collaborative Summer Reading theme called "All Together Now."  Beyond that I will be on the road on my usual time to post.  August 12 is World Elephant Day so I wanted to both give this lovely story and then get into a bit of Elephant facts including re-posting something from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

(Rather than strain my elderly copy of More Jataka Tales I copied an online edition of it from The Baldwin Project.  The illustrations by Ellsworth Young will appear, but the copying process sometimes seems to delay them a bit.)




NCE upon a time a Dog used to go into the stable where the king's Elephant lived. At first the Dog went there to get the food that was left after the Elephant had finished eating.

[Illustration]Day after day the Dog went to the stable, waiting around for bits to eat. But by and by the Elephant and the Dog came to be great friends. Then the Elephant began to share his food with the Dog, and they ate together. When the Elephant slept, his friend the Dog slept beside him. When the Elephant felt like playing, he would catch the Dog in his trunk and swing him to and fro. Neither the Dog nor the Elephant was quite happy unless the other was near-by.

One day a farmer saw the Dog and said to the Elephant-keeper: "I will buy that Dog. He looks good-tempered, and I see that he is smart. How much do you want for the Dog?"

The Elephant-keeper did not care for the Dog, and he did want some money just then. So he asked a fair price, and the farmer paid it and took the Dog away to the country.

The king's Elephant missed the Dog and did not care to eat when his friend was not there to share the food. When the time came for the Elephant to bathe, he would not bathe. The next day again the Elephant would not eat, and he would not bathe. The third day, when the Elephant would neither eat nor bathe, the king was told about it.

[Illustration]The king sent for his chief servant, saying, "Go to the stable and find out why the Elephant is acting in this way."

The chief servant went to the stable and looked the Elephant all over. Then he said to the Elephant-keeper: "There seems to be nothing the matter with this Elephant's body, but why does he look so sad? Has he lost a play-mate?"

"Yes," said the keeper, "there was a Dog who ate and slept and played with the Elephant. The Dog went away three days ago."

"Do you know where the Dog is now?" asked the chief servant.

"No, I do not," said the keeper.

Then the chief servant went back to the king and said. "The Elephant is not sick, but he is lonely without his friend, the Dog."

"Where is the Dog?" asked the king.

"A farmer took him away, so the Elephant-keeper says," said the chief servant. "No one knows where the farmer lives."

"Very well," said the king. "I will send word all over the country, asking the man who bought this Dog to turn him loose. I will give him back as much as he paid for the Dog."

[Illustration]When the farmer who had bought the Dog heard this, he turned him loose. The Dog ran back as fast as ever he could go to the Elephant's stable. The Elephant was so glad to see the Dog that he picked him up with his trunk and put him on his head. Then he put him down again.

When the Elephant-keeper brought food, the Elephant watched the Dog as he ate, and then took his own food.

All the rest of their lives the Elephant and the Dog lived together.

World Elephant Day 2022 will be taking place on August 12th. Co-founded in 2012 by Canadian Patricia Sims and the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation in Thailand, each year on this date, World Elephant Day aims to raise global awareness of the need to protect Asian and African elephants from the threats they face. 

Related to those efforts I received and want to share this email I received from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

 Just when you thought elephants couldn’t be any more extraordinary

Imagine being able to detect a rainstorm over 100 kilometers away—with your feet! While it might sound like some kind of superpower, it’s actually one of the elephants’ innate abilities. (Wow!)

Unique qualities like these are just one more reason why they’re so amazing!
for elephants
to celebrate upcoming World Elephant Day
Show elephants you care with a matched gift

Because the gentle giants communicate with infrasound—sound below the range of human hearing—they can also pick up the extremely subtle rumbles of distant rainstorms. This gives the thirsty pachyderms a chance to change course and start moving toward much-needed water sources as they become available.

While we don’t share the elephants’ incredible ability of deciphering distant sounds with our feet, we are taking their lead by putting sound to work as a way to help protect them.

WCS has been collaborating with Elephant Listening Project researchers, using remote recording units to capture the awe-inspiring soundscapes of the Congolese rainforest—including the low rumbles of elephants. By painstakingly monitoring these recordings, we can better understand how elephants fare before, during, and after intrusive operations such as logging, for example.

We’re consistently using new and unique strategies like these to safeguard the elephants we all love. Won’t you join us in our efforts? Your gift to elephants will be put to work right away to protect elephants in 21 countries across Africa and Asia.


This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.

Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-

  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key.

  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"

The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:        

         - David K. Brown -

         - Richard Martin -

         - Spirit of Trees -

         - Story-Lovers - is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at .  It's not easy, but go to snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.

       - World of Tales - 

           - Zalka Csenge Virag - doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.

You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!

    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., when that becomes the only way to find them.

You can see why I recommend these to you. 

Have fun discovering even more stories

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