Woof! Wanna hear a real shaggy dog story from my pal in Canada?
The Shaggy Dog
Once upon a time, way up in the very north of Canada, there lived a trapper named Sam. He was a poor man, but a great reader, who shared his hard and lonely life with several well-thumbed adventure yarns and a large shaggy dog called Rover.
Now Rover wasn't much of a dog as purebreds go, his pedigree having taken many a turn for the worse. You'd be hard put to say whether he was mostly terrier or wolfhound or husky. But he was big and likeable and, because of the cold climate, had a really exceptionally thick shaggy coat.
One day, as Sam tramped along his trap lines, he called in at another trapper's hut. The hut was empty but, on the table, was a newspaper. Not a very up-to-the-minute newspaper, but a lot more up-to-date than anything Sam had read lately. So he fell upon it eagerly and read it from cover to cover. And there, on the back page, an item caught his eye. It said that, way down in the southern part of the country; an eccentric millionaire was offering half his fortune if only someone would bring him his dying wish, a really shaggy dog.
This piece of news had a startling effect on Sam. Here at last was a way to make his fortune. It was obvious! No more struggling through bitter winters. No more loneliness and hardship. He would simply head south with big, oh-so-shaggy Rover and the ailing millionaire would be a happy man. And so, of course, would Sam.
Carefully he tore the item from the newspaper and placed it in his innermost pocket. Whistling for the dog, he hurried to his own cabin and there made preparations for his journey. It would be a long haul through some of the worst of the winter months, but he could do it!
And so, with packsack and snowshoes, and Rover on a makeshift lead, he headed south.
Weeks passed as Sam and Rover, footsore, frostbitten and fuddled from lack of food, fought their way nearer and nearer to the millionaire's deathbed. Would they find his house? Would he have found another dog? Would he still be alive? Urgently, Sam made enquiries at each trading post or small homestead he passed.
"My word, that's a shaggy dog you have there!" folks remarked whenever he stopped.
As he drew nearer to civilization, he learned with great relief that the search for a dog continued and that the millionaire's mansion lay at the top of a steep hill just visible on the horizon.
Up they climbed, tired and tattered, arriving eventually at the huge oak-studded front door. Raising a weather-beaten hand, Sam tugged at the wrought iron bell-pull. Distantly the bell clanged. The door opened and a butler stood in the doorway.
"I've come about the shaggy dog story in this newspaper," said Sam, carefully drawing out the clipping from his innermost pocket and offering Rover's lead to the manservant.
Silently the butler withdrew with the dog. Sam listened to his footsteps cross the vast hall and ascends the massive circular staircase. He waited patiently on the doorstep, dreaming of the luxury soon to be his. At last the butler reappeared. Solemnly he handed back the dog.
"Not shaggy enough," he said, and shut the door.