It's Monday, so that means Between the Lines. This time around, I'm in the frozen north--Alaska to be exact. I've traveled here to talk to Buck, the dog gone wild from The Call of the Wild.
Greg: Hi Buck. Thanks for letting us visit with you. You've had quite a wild life. How did you wind up with a pack of wolves?
Buck: Well, it's kind of a long story. My life was uneventful enough to start. I had a very happy early life with my first master, Judge Miller, in California. He treated me real well, and I had no problem with humans. As a matter of fact, I kind of liked them.
Then, the Judge's gardener, Manuel, stole me. That's when everything changed.
Greg: What happened?
Buck: I was shipped up north in a crate. Wound up in Seattle. They treated me bad. Didn't give me any food or water. There was this guy in this red sweater, he was the worst. When I got out of that crate, I was on him quick. I'd turned mean. But he taught me a lesson. He beat the tar out of me with his club. Taught me that a man with a club was someone to be careful of.
Greg: Did you stay long in Seattle?
Buck: No, thank goodness. A couple of nice people named Francois and Perrault bought me and took me up to Alaska. They trained me to be a sled dog. It was tough going at first. Alaska was cold--a lot colder than anything I was used to. Plus, I had a hard time fitting in.
Spitz, the lead sled dog, saw me as some kind of a threat or something. Finally, he challenged me to a fight. Luckily, I won, and the rest of the sled team accepted me as the lead dog. After that, things were easier, but it didn't last.
Greg: Oh my, why not?
Buck: Because people can be cruel and greedy. When they get the gold frenzy, they don't care how they treat anyone, man or beast. It doesn't matter, they treat everyone like dogs. The sled team was sold to some guy who delivered the mail. The load we had to pull was terribly heavy. It was brutal, I can tell you.
Finally, it got to the point where we were just exhausted. We weren't any good for anything, so we all got sold.
Greg: I hope they were decent. Who were they?
Buck: Three of the tenderest greenhorns you ever want to see. They had gold fever, but didn't know the first thing about living out in the wild. It was awful. First they fed us too much. Then, the food starts getting short, so they don't feed us anything at all. I mean, make up your mind already.
Well, we meet this guy, John Thornton, who tells the greenhorns not to cross the river. It's thawing out, and they're bound to fall through. I had to agree with him, but the greenhorns didn't want to hear it. So I decided that heck, I wasn't going to cross any thawing river. I lay down and didn't move.
Greg: What happened then?
Buck: This guy Thornton cuts me loose and takes me with him. The rest of the team and the three greenhorns die in the river, of course. Thornton--he was good to me. He takes care of me. I hadn't been so happy since I left the Judge. I saved his neck a couple of times.
Round about this time. I met a wolf. He gave me a strange feeling, one of a wild freedom that I wished I could share. Eventually, I found myself without a master again, and decided that I'd had enough of human society and would answer the call of the wild.
Greg: Well, thanks for your time, Buck. It was interesting to hear your story.
Buck: No problem, the woods are cold, and it was nice to sit by a fire again, if only for a little while. But I think I prefer my pack mates to you humans. Later.