My story “Sir Charles and the Mutt”, is a classist story based on privilege portrayed through dog’s lives as purebred (aristocrat), mix breeds (bourgeoisie), and mutts (proletariat). This builds on classic fairy tale tropes and structures as it provides a unique perspective on Marxist ideas through an indirect correlation between humans and dogs.
Charles has grown up in an aristocratic town comprised solely of purebred dogs, and only knows his privileged life until he ultimately needs the help of a mutt named Daisy to find his way home. After falling for Daisy, Charles makes a decision to leave his aristocratic and protected life by volunteering at a soup kitchen in hopes of someday being able to find Daisy. Working at the soup kitchen allows Charles to experience the hardships of other classes through characters such as Charlie and others. Charlie, a mixed breed, is very similar to Charles except for the fact that he has not had the same opportunities given his bourgeoisie class. After coming to the realization of how privileged his life has been, Charles decides that he wants to advocate for all the dogs that aren’t given the same respect and opportunities the he has been afforded. Eventually through many hardships and obstacles, Charles, with the help of Daisy, is able to secretly help mixed breeds and mutts join a dog show that had previously only allowed pure breeds to participate. Sampson, a good looking mutt, ultimately ends up winning the dog show and surprising everyone, despite his proletariat class. Charles, using his status, is able to help all dogs feel that they are given the same opportunities as one another and are viewed as equals.
The intended audience for this story are children so that they can learn the lessons of equality, respect, and opportunity, regardless of their backgrounds and socioeconomic class. As young children develop their sense of self and awareness of their class, they can be heavily influenced by both perceived and real barriers in achieving their own individual success. The purpose for writing this tale is to not only teach children a message of equality amongst gender, classes, and races/nationalities, but to also help recognize the challenges that class systems present.
Once upon a time in a land full of dogs of all shapes and sizes lived a young purebred Saint Bernard named Sir Charles. Growing up, Charles was always limited to socializing within the purebred society. All of his family were purebred, all of his friends were purebred, and all of his neighbors were purebred. The neighborhood that Charles was raised in was lined with grand white-columned homes and always seemed to smell like fresh-trimmed grass and roses. There was not a truck or loud car to be seen, and all you could hear were the chirping of the birds on the white picket fences. Everyone surrounding him were purebred including Charles’ fiancee, Mila, another Saint Bernard of aristocratic bloodlines whom he’d been bound to marry since they were just puppies. Mila was very pretty, with long flowing hair, a fluffy tail, and nails perfectly trimmed. She often performed in and won many dog shows across the country, flaunting her skills and beauty to everyone. However, Charles was never quite sure if Mila was the right dog for him, as she never truly allowed him to be as happy as he had hoped.
On Charles’ third birthday, he and his closest friends, Ralph the Black Lab and Ripple the Pug, decided to venture out for a night on the town. After a late night of playing in the parks, being offered gourmet snacks from the local restaurants, the three gentledogs decided it was time to walk home. Unfortunately, in their quest for the next great park and restaurant food, they had wandered beyond their protected neighborhood and found themselves lost without a scent to help them get home. They continued into the cold darkness of the unfamiliar streets, often being startled by loud trucks and cars passing by. Saddened and scared, the trio stumbled upon a mutt who appeared out of the darkness of an alleyway.
“Who are you?” questioned Ripple.
“Daisy,” she said. “You aren't from around these parts, are ya?”
“We lost our way trying to get home. Can you help us?” asked Ralph.
Speechless, Charles in the meantime just stared at the mutt. Usually the leader, he couldn't figure out what to say. Despite being a mutt, she was very beautiful, confident, and smart, and Charles was both confused and enamored by her.
“I’ll help you three get home, but I have to get back soon, I’ve got a job to get to in the morning” she said.
Together, the four of them walked through town until they began to pick up a familiar scent and noticed the streetlights from their town up ahead. After pointing them in the right direction, and without even a goodbye, Daisy quickly turned back and went home. Ralph and Ripple then proceeded to ask Charles what happened to him back when they ran into Daisy, and he just replied with a simple “cat got my tongue, that’s all.”
Months passed and Charles couldn’t get this mutt out of his mind. Her beauty, charm, confidence, and smarts surprised him, as she was just a mutt. As time passed, Charles realized he couldn’t shake the feelings he had for Daisy from just this one meeting, and thus decided that he had to break off the engagement with Mila. Whether Daisy was the one or not, he knew he had to do everything in his power find out.
Charles had an idea to volunteer at a nearby soup kitchen, with the hope that he might run into Daisy once again. At the soup kitchen, Charles met many different dogs including mutts and mixed breeds, but none who knew Daisy. It wasn’t until Charles met Charlie, a mixed breed Labrador and Poodle called a Labradoodle, that Charles understood how privileged he truly was.
“It’s just more difficult for anyone who isn’t a purebred now-a-days” explained Charlie. “Just because I’m not pure, I couldn’t get into the good schools, and the higher paying jobs just won’t take me!”
Charlie was a very good dog with a wife and puppies on the way, and Charles couldn’t understand how dogs that are so similar could be so different just because of their background. Charles felt a sense of unfairness that a dog as good as Charlie couldn’t get a good job to support his wife and future family. It was at that point that Charles said, “I’m going to make this right” and stormed out.
In the meantime, Charlie returned to his small apartment and his wife Delilah, and proceeded to tell her about his day.
“Today I met a purebred who promised to help me get a good job!” He explained.
“That’s great! But what is everyone else going to think when you work at a ‘purebred’ company?”
“They should be happy for me… right?”
“They should be, but not everyone will be okay with this kind of change as you know we’re not supposed to mix together.”
Soon enough the whole town began to hear about Charles’ plan to create equality for all dogs, and it seemed that most agreed on a need for change. He’d be complimented walking down the street, stopped at the park, and even approached at the store. He was told that this was a long overdue change but was equally warned it may not be easy, and that there may be some that would resist the change. As Charles continued on his day, a Rottweiler named Jasper from down the street caught him off guard and pinned him against the wall in a back alley of a nearby building.
“This whole equality thing you’re trying to do will ruin my life!” barked Jasper. “How am I supposed to work with mixed breeds?! Or even worse, Mutts! They’re not as good as us and they will take our jobs!”
“They have the right to these jobs just as we all do. Just because they’re not a purebred doesn’t mean they can’t do the job. They deserve the same opportunities that we all have been given!” Charles tried to explain.
Frustrated and now pacing, Jasper says, “no… no…. I can’t have this… you need to stop this now.”
“What do you mean?”
“This whole ‘all dogs created equal’ thing you’re going for needs to stop, or else something bad will happen to your friend Charlie. And I’m not the only one who feels this way.”
“No! I can’t stop trying to help these dogs… no one else is trying to help them!”
“Suit yourself…” Jasper said ominously, as he backed away.
Weeks passed and everything seemed to be going well for Charles. He was able to convince his family to sponsor a dog show in which he would surprise all the judges with mixed breeds, mutts, and purebreds side by side. The only thing missing in his grand plan was Daisy. Charles told all of his mixed breed and mutt friends to look for her and invite her to the dog show, with hopes that he could see her again.
In the days leading up to the dog show, Charles received a random phone call in the middle of the night.
“Is this Charles?” asked an unknown voice on the phone.
“Yes… who is this?” retorted Charles.
“This is Delilah, Charlie's wife, he’s in trouble.”
“Why what happened?!”
“On his way home from his second job he was jumped by a Rottweiler, and he’s in the hospital now in critical condition”
“I’ll be right over” Charles said as he hung up the phone and sprinted out of his house. Turns out that Jasper wasn’t lying when he said that he'd hurt Charlie, and Charles felt responsible.
“I’m so sorry, Charlie” Charles said woefully staring at Charlie casted from head to tail.
“No, don’t be sorry. If I need to be here in order for change to happen, I will be the sacrificial pup” Charlie said while the heart monitors beeped in the background.
“Is there anything I can do to help?
“Just go out there, have that dog show, and make a difference for all dogs.”
As the day of the dog show came around, Charles was nervous. As he arrived at the front door, he noticed all of his mutt and mixed friends stuck outside rumbling and screaming about.
“They won’t let us in!” said one. “They said that purebred dogs are the only ones allowed to participate in the show!”
Charles stormed in demanding the judges to let the dogs in, but the head judge refused. Charles didn’t know what to do. As Charles was trying to come up with a solution, he saw a familiar sight in a crowd of tails. It was Daisy’s!
“I hear you’ve been asking for me?” she said with a bit of sass in her voice.
Charles stuttered a bit and replied with a smile and a loud, “Yes!”
“Well… it seems you need some help again don’t ya?”
“Uh, um, uh, yes I do.”
“Well let’s get everyone into the show first, and then we can chat a bit.”
Turned out Daisy was one of the most savvy mutts in the area, and knew exactly what to do. Daisy organized a back door approach, so each of the mutts could sneak in one by one. Once in, most of the dogs began participating in the various show activities. However one dog, Sampson, was afraid to get in the ring with the other purebred dogs.
“I’m not good enough to compete with ‘em.”, he exclaimed whimpering in the corner. “I’m not as educated or as good as they are.”
Charles, overhearing Sampson, came over to him and calmly said, “you can be anything you want regardless of your breed.”
Sampson then rubbed off some of his nervous tears on the rug, hopped into the ring with all the other dogs, and began to compete just like everyone else. Eventually the mixed breeds and mutts started to earn points amongst the judges, and once the dog show was over, everybody was left shocked. Sampson, a mutt nonetheless, ended up winning the “best in class” for the dog show.
After he claimed his blue ribbon, Sampson revealed to the judges and other purebreds that he was actually a mutt. Everyone was shocked that he was selected to win, including Sampson. No one could understand how a mutt could be the “best in class” dog. The judges began arguing with each other, and finally agreed that all dogs should not only be allowed in dog shows from now on, but should also have the same amount of opportunities to learn different show skills so they can be the best they can be. The dog show became the talk of the town and was the tipping point for a change that affected almost all aspects of life, from schools to jobs, to who could socialize with who.
Charles had succeeded in creating an equal environment for all dogs. Charlie recovered successfully from the hospital and is on the hunt for better paying jobs to provide for his new-born puppies. Charles and Daisy didn’t lose touch this time around, and began to meet every day at the local park where they laughed, played, and began to fall in love. And they lived happily ever after.