Discover Why Rabbit Has a Short Tail with this Folktale from Haiti
A Haitian folktale about Dog and Rabbit, who were once the best of friends until Dog leaves Rabbit behind in his rush to board the ship that is sailing off to the Magical Island. (duration 10 minutes) An episode from Journey with Story, a storytelling podcast for kids.
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Do rabbits have long tails or short tails? Yes, I am sure all of you know that rabbits have short tails, but…..that was not always the case – apparently.
Hello everyone. I’m Kathleen Pelley. Welcome to Journey with Story. Today’s episode is a folktale from Haiti and it explains how there once was a time when rabbits actually had long and bushy tails.
Thanks to all of you who….. Huge thanks to all of our wonderful listeners –so many of you have sent me lovely drawings from your children – and huge thanks to all of our loyal Patreon subscribers who are enjoying all sorts of fun perks like coloring sheets, stickers, and even a copy of one of my signed books. Thank you.
Let’s take a journey with ..How the Rabbit Lost Its Tail
Long, long ago, rabbits had extremely long tails, and long, long ago, rabbit and dog were the best of friends. Back in those long ago days, the rabbit and the dog spent a lot of time together, just like best friends. They had breakfast together, lunch together, and dinner together.
One morning, when the rabbit and the dog were enjoying a tasty breakfast together and chatting about this and that like best friends do, along came – Anansi.
Now Anansi was rather jealous of rabbit and dog and the friendship they shared.
The dog noticed Anansi first and said, “Anansi, what are doing up so early? You never get up before twelve o’clock.”
“I got up early,” answered Anansi, because there is a boat leaving soon for the magical island.”
“But I have always wanted to see the magical island,”
said the dog.
“Oh, but you cannot go!”
“You don’t have any horns,” explained Anansi. “and so you can’t go.”
“But I want to go on the boat. I want to go on the boat. I want to go on the boooooat!”
The rabbit turned to the dog and said, “You heard what Anansi said. We don’t have any horns, and so we cannot get on the boat.”
Smiling to himself, at having planted the seeds of trouble, Anansi scuttled away back to his home in the woods.
Meanwhile, the dog still fretted about getting on the boat. “Please, please, can’t we find a way to get on that boat,” he begged.
“Well, let me think,” said the rabbit. “Oh, wait, I do have an idea. Let’s go into the woods and get two long sticks each and a couple of leaves. WE will poke the sticks up through the leaves and we will gather some vines and tie the sticks together just like headpieces, like bonnets. And once we place them on our heads, we will look as if we do have horns.”
And so that is just what they did.
They rushed off into the woods and found two long sticks and then they each gathered a couple of leaves and poked the sticks up thought the leaves, and after that, they found some vines and they tied the sticks into the headpieces – like bonnets. Now the headpieces were rather heavy and so they had to help each other place them onto their heads.
The dog said, “Rabbit, you help me put mine on and then I will help you with yours.”
The rabbit agreed. He picked up a headpiece and placed it on the dog’s head.
Then the dog tied a lovely bow under his chin and walked over to the water to admire his reflection. Sure enough, with those sticks pointing up in the air it made him look as if he had horns.
“See how nice I look!”
“Yes, yes,” agreed the rabbit. “You look very nice, now come on- help me get my horns on.”
But the dog was still busy admiring himself. “Wait, wait. I want to look some more at my new horns and see how handsome I am.”
“Hurry up,” scolded the rabbit. “It’s my turn now – I need you to help me.”
Just then they heard a horn blaring. The magical boat was coming ashore.
“Oh, time to go,” cried the dog. “Got to dash. Goodbye, goodbye!” And off he dashed.
“No, no no!” cried the rabbit. “Wait for meeee!”
But already the dog had lined up with all the horned animals – a cow, a rhinoceros, a yak, a giraffe, a wilderbeest, an antelope, a gazelle, a buffalo, a bison, a unicorn, a moose.
All of those animals with horns were boarding the boat and there was the dog with his false horns boarding right along with them.
When the rabbit saw what was happening, he fumed with rage. As the boat started to sail off, the rabbit noticed a little hill next to the water, and he raced over and climbed to the top of that little hill.
As soon as the boat sailed by, the rabbit called out, “Captain! Captain! One of your passengers has no horns.”
But the dog was as crafty as the rabbit and at once he rushed up to the captain, “Captain, did you hear what that rabbit said? He said turn the boat to the left – to the left.”
And so the captain, who had not heard at all what the rabbit had shouted, did what dog said and turned the boat to the left.
The rabbit did not give up. At once, he ran over to the next hill and he cried out as loudly as he could, “Captain! Oh Catptain! One of your passengers has no horns.”
But once again the dog raced up to the captain and said,”Captain, did you hear what that rabbit said? Turn the boat to the right, to the right.”
And again, not knowing what the rabbit had really said, the Captain obeyed the dog and turned the boat to the right.
The rabbit looked ahead and saw one last little hill left. He ran as fast as he could to the top of that hill and called out with all his might. “Captain! Oh Captain! One of your passengers has no horns!”
Well, now this time, the wind carried those words across the water, over the stern of the boat, right up to the captain’s ears.
“What? One of my passengers has no horns!” he shouted. “Tim the sail. Drop the anchor. Stop the boat – and line up.”
All the animals lined up and the captain walked over to the cow and checked her horns. Then he checked the moose, and the wildebeest, the yak, the ox, the unicorn, the giraffe, the rhinoceros, the antelope, the elk. He as getting closer and closer to the dog.
The dog knew he was going to get caught, and so he jumped over the side of the boat and doggy paddled to the shore.
When the rabbit saw the dog coming closer and closer toward him and saw the angry fire in his eyes, he decided to turn and flee.
As he ran, his tail flopped and flipped and flopped. The dog was drawing closer and closer. The rabbit kept running, his long tail continued to flop and flip and flop, and all the while the dog was gaining ground – he was getting closer…and closer…and closer..
Finally the rabbit reached the safety of his home and he jumped into that rabbit hole. But…he did not have enough time to pull in that long bushy tail of his.
The dog came right up behind him, and he bit the rabbit’s tail right off!
And ever since that day, rabbits have short little tails…and…dogs are always chasing them!!
Sounds like that dog was really, really, mad at that rabbit! But then again, that rabbit was really mad at that dog for going off without him – so what do you think – was it understandable that the rabbit tried to get his own back by tattling on the dog? Or not?
You could have some interesting discussion about this – what do you do when someone betrays you or leaves you in the lurch, or breaks a promise to you? I’ll let you ponder that for a while….
In the meantime, Cheerio then, join me next time for Journey with Story.