It all happened a very long time ago, in an obscure territory known as western Pennsylvania. The year was 1983, when pop crooner David Bowie’s hit “Let’s Dance” toppled the charts – not that this mattered to folks around these parts. In fact, pop culture was of absolutely no concern to the flock of sheep that subsided the placid, rolling fields in this terrain.
They spent their bright and bitter days grazing the land, where their wool grew thick and expensive. However, one member could not live on grass alone. A pariah by breed, Neal was a staunch, yet malcontent Pyrenean Mountain Dog. Although Neal was an orphan, none of the sheep had the heart to tell him. Neal was their sole protector.
It was just after sunrise that morning when Neal dutifully tore open the neck of a slippery and belligerent coyote. Neal proceeded to rip apart and consume the carcass. As he severed the fur from the meat, Neal realized his comrades all stared at him, disgusted by his bloodstained white fur.
“We’re vegetarians!” That was always the flock’s excuse. Neal thought this was silly, but never complained about his ample share of meat. But this time was different. Neal felt the rectangular pupils of the sheep pierce his skin and judge the coyote’s viscera that dotted his face.
Neal took off, down to the river that lay past the tree line. He leaned in for a drink and caught his reflection in the dark water. Neal didn’t look like the other members of his flock. The other sheep didn’t have his dark eyes and nose. The sheep had thick coats of wool, while Neal had loose, straight fur. And they lacked the sharp canine teeth that allowed Neal to cleave through the flesh of his meals.
Neal took one last look at the flock, which hovered at the far away peak of a hill, and ran in the opposite direction. They were not his family. They were a flock of high-maintenance manipulators.
Before long, Neal ran into an attractive gray wolf named Kara. The previous summer, Kara had emigrated from Canada with the small pack she called a tribe.
“You’re a predator, Neal. It’s in your nature, like it’s in our nature,” said Kara. “You can’t fight it, but you can accept it.” If Neal were a human, he would have grappled with this bit at an emotional crossroad. But he wasn’t a human. He was a dog, and one that needed little convincing.
That afternoon, Neal and his recently adopted tribe surrounded the sheep on that incandescent hill. Neal happily participated in the slaughter and consumption of every single member of his old flock - even the lambs. It was a delicious bloodbath, and out of the gore, Neal was reborn - a predator. A fucking carnivore.
by Jay Burnham