The story of the sheepdog Sirko and the wolf is a popular Ukranian folk tale. And like many good stories from Ukraine vodka plays a key part in this one as well. As a big lover of wolves I personally like this tale very much since the wolf isn’t the ultimate villain for a change. After all the ‘bad press’ this beautiful animal got from stories like Little Red Riding Hood, the Three Little Pigs and Peter and the Wolf it’s high time to rehabilitate his reputation. In the tale of Sirko the wolf is our favorite kind of character: a kind-hearted and helpful drunkard.
Once upon a time there was a married couple living on a farm in Ukraine. They had a dog named Sirko to watch over their sheep. However after years and years of faithful service this sheepdog got older and slower. And as Sirko lay beside the warm open fire one night he heard the wife whisper to her husband: “Sirko is getting to old for his work. It’s his time.”
His owner looked upon Sirko, who he loved dearly, and tried to convince his wife to keep his old friend around. But she told him: “He was a great dog, but now he’s too old. We need a new young dog to look after the sheep. We just had a baby and I can’t help you catch the sheep if they run away. Sirko’s got to go.”
The next day the farmer took his dog to the forest, but he couldn’t bare the thought of killing him. Instead he said: “Run away now Sirko and don’t come back. My wife doesn’t have to know.”
So the sad Sirko had nothing else to do than to roam the forest, until he stumbled upon a wolf. “Hey aren’t you that sheepdog”, the wolf asked. “What are you doing here?” Sirko explained the situation and the wolf said: “Don’t worry old boy, I know a way to get you back into that house. Just listen to me and they will never send you away again. We just have to wait till it’s time to harvest the hay and the wife leaves the house to help her husband.”
So a few days later when the couple was working in the field, the wolf got into the farm and grabbed their baby. He ran across the field, where the terrified parents were watching. As the animals had agreed, Sirko then appeared and ran after the wolf, who pretended to be scared, dropped the baby and ran off. The wife hugged and kissed her child she thought she had lost, while the farmer did the same to his old sheepdog and yelled: “Oh my brave Sirko, you came back and saved our family from a great tragedy. You’ll stay with us forever and will eat like one of us.”
When they got home the wife prepared an extra portion of dumplings for the ‘hero of the day’. And Sirko started thinking how he could repay the wolf. And one day when the farmers were throwing a party he had an idea. He looked up the wold and told him to come to this party and hide under the table. Sirko promised to bring him the tastiest treats. “It’s the least I can do, since I owe all my happiness to you.”
And that’s what happened. While the guests were dancing Sirko stole the finest pieces of meat from the table, as well as some of the farmer’s finest vodka. The wolf feasted on this amazing meal and drank the vodka like water. After a while he got quite drunk and said with a double tongue: “Sirko my friend, this meal was amazing. So great that it makes me want to sing.”
“Oh please don’t do that”, Sirko replied. “Please, they will kill us both if they spot you under the table. I can bring you more vodka if you want, but please don’t sing.” The wolf agreed and Sirko got him another bottle.
Everything was fine for a while, but after the second bottle the wolf was incredibly drunk and felt the urge to sing more than ever. Again Sirko tried to stop him, but there was no reasoning with the wolf anymore and he started howling loud. The music stopped immediately and the people who were dancing rushed towards the table, armed with shuffles and other potential weapons. “A wolf, a wolf, kill him quick!”
One moment Sirko hesitated, but then he threw himself on the wolf and pretended to fight with him, while whispering: “Play along and I might get us out of here.” The farmer in the meantime held back the mob, afraid that they might hurt his beloved dog. “Don’t worry, Sirko will take care of this wolf. He has done it before.”
So Sirko grabbed the drunken wolf and dragged him away from the yard and into the fields. When they were out of sight he said: “Well my friend, you did me a huge favour and now I have repaid you. Now we must part ways.” So they said goodbye, but they never forgot each other.