Illustration for "Red Dog" by David Ljungdahl from the 1915 Swedish edition of The Second Jungle Book.

"Red Dog" is a short story by the British author Rudyard Kipling. It was first published in the Pall Mall Gazette in July 1895. The story was subsequently collected in The Second Jungle Book (1895).

The story concerns Mowgli, the boy raised by wolves in the Indian jungle. Mowgli is now an adolescent, but he still lives in the jungle with his wolf brothers. When the wolves learn of an imminent attack by a large pack of savage wild dogs, Mowgli decides to ask his friend Kaa, the wise old python, for advice.


It has been some years since the events depicted in "Letting in the Jungle" took place, and Mowgli is an adolescent enjoying his life in the Indian jungle. His wolf parents have died, and Akela the former Pack Leader is no longer gray but white with old age. Young wolves have formed a new Wolf Pack. Mowgli will not join the new Pack, but he still attends the Council and sits with Akela and the new leader Phao.

One evening, terrible shrieks of the jackal are heard, signaling there is some big killing happening somewhere in the jungle. The wolves quickly gather at the Council Rock. An injured wolf, unknown to the members of the Pack, approaches the Council. The stranger tells the assembly that he is a Won-tolla, a lone wolf not belonging to any pack. He says that his mate and their three cubs have been killed by a pack of dholes. The dholes are wild red dogs from the south, smaller than wolves but very strong, that hunt in large packs of at least a hundred. Although he is covered in terrible bite marks and his forefoot is mangled, the Won-tolla is determined to exact revenge on the wild dogs. Akela, who knows that the fight with the dholes will be to the death, tells Mowgli to leave and go north to safety. Mowgli, however, insists he will join the fight. As the Pack prepares for the battle, Mowgli runs off to scout the dholes.

Rushing in the darkness, Mowgli trips over Kaa the great snake. Kaa, who was spying a herd of deer to hunt, is angry at first, but Mowgli apologizes and flatters the "wise, old, strong, and most beautiful" snake. Pacified, Kaa adjusts his coils for Mowgli to rest on. Mowgli settles down and tells Kaa about the dholes. Kaa is inclined to take Mowgil with him to the northern marshes and let the wolves deal with the dogs, but Mowgli tells him that he has sworn to fight with the Pack. Mowgli's plan is to wait for the dholes to swim the Waingunga river then attack them in the shallow water. He thinks the Pack can make the dholes turn back. Kaa tells Mowgli that he and the wolves will not survive the battle. Mowgli asks him for advice. Kaa, who is extremely old, goes into deep thought as he looks back on his vast experience in search of an answer. Mowgli decides to get some sleep.

Kaa comes out of his trance with a plan. He takes Mowgli to the river and, with Mowgli holding on to his neck, lashes up the stream very fast for a mile or two. He finally stops where the river runs narrow between a hundred-foot gorge on either side. Mowgli recognizes the Place of Death. The weatherworn rocks of the gorge are full of wild bees numbering in the millions. Everyone in the jungle knows to stay away from the Little People of the Rocks. Kaa takes Mowgli further up the river to a sandy bar where skeletons of the animals killed by the bees can be seen all over the sand. Kaa tells Mowgli about an incident which took place a long time ago.

According to Kaa, a buck being chased by the Pack leapt from the gorge above. Many of the Pack leapt after the buck only to be killed by the bees before they hit the water. Those that did not leap were killed by the bees in the rocks above the gorge. But the buck, having leapt into the river before the bees knew what was happening, survived.

Mowgli understands Kaa's plan. Kaa says he will tell the Pack to wait downstream for the dholes. He will then come back to wait for Mowgli in the river. Mowgli follows the Won-tolla's blood trail in search of the dholes. Along the way, he picks some wild garlic which bees dislike. The Won-tolla's trail runs through the thick forest whose edge is about two miles from the Bee Rocks across an open field. Mowgli settles down in a tree in the forest.

It is nearly mid-day when the pack of 200 dogs arrives following the Won-tolla's trail. Mowgli looks down on the leader of the dhole pack and yells "Good hunting!" In order to keep the dholes occupied till dusk when the bees return to their nests, Mowgli begins to tease and insult them from above. The enraged dogs gather under the tree and begin to leap up trying to get to Mowgli. Mowgli continues to taunt the dholes until their furious leader jumps high enough for his reach. He quickly grabs the leader by the scruff of the neck and drags him up the tree. He then uses his knife to cut off the dog's tail before flinging the beast down. The dhole pack, now determined to kill Mowgli, forgets about the Won-tolla and hunkers down. Satisfied, Mowgli climes higher up the tree and goes to sleep.

Mowgli wakes a few hours later and finds the dholes still there as predicted. The sun is beginning to set. He taunts the tailless leader some more than begins to move. As he travels from tree to tree, the dholes follow on the ground. At the edge of the forest, Mowgli stops to rub wild garlic all over himself. Next he throws the leader's tail back into the forest, causing the dogs to rush back after it. He then quickly slips down the trunk and runs across the open field toward the Bee Rocks. After a second, the dholes see him and begin to run after him. Mowgli runs just fast enough to keep the leader from catching him. Then he runs full speed across the Bee Rocks.

Mowgli hears a humming noise in the ground which turns into a roar. As he gets to the ledge, he sees behind him the air grow dark. Mowgli leaps down into the river below. The surprise and the smell of garlic delay the bees just long enough. Mowgli hits the water safely. Kaa helps steady him against the current. They watch as the bee-covered dholes fall off the cliff and hit the water dead. Overhead they hear the dogs fighting with the swarming bees. Some dholes fall into the nests in the rocks while others fall into the trees on the cliff. Most throw themselves off the cliff and are carried away by the river.

Mowgli and Kaa go down the river to look for survivors. About half of the dhole pack, those that dove into the water as soon as the bees began to attack, have made it downstream. The tailless leader urges the survivors to kill all wolves. Mowgli dives down and drags a dhole under water. Strong current and the bees prevent the dholes from going back upstream. Mowgli grabs another dhole. The trapped dholes hear the howling wolves approaching and begin to panic.

The first wolf to arrive is the Won-tolla. The dholes in the water, too tired and drenched to do anything, watch silently as the Won-tolla leaps up and down on the bank. Mowgli rises up and kills one of the dholes with his knife. Soon the whole Wolf Pack arrives, and the dholes are forced to fight from the disadvantage of shallow water. Mowgli, protected by his four wolf brothers, fight with the Pack. In the long fight that ensues, the wolves gradually take control despite being outnumbered.

Mowgli mourns Akela. 1895 illustration by Rudyard Kipling's father, John Lockwood Kipling.

Mowgli finds the Won-tolla standing over a paralyzed dhole. It is the tailless leader. Mowgli protects the Won-tolla from another dhole to allow him to finish carrying out his revenge. As the leader dies, the Won-tolla drops dead on top of him. Akela too is fatally wounded in the battle. Mowgli kneels down beside his dying friend. Akela tells Mowgli to go back to his own people. Although Mowgli does not understand him, Akela explains that he will soon be driven to do so. Mowgli holds up Akela so the former Pack Leader can sing his death song. Afterwards Mowgli sits with his head on his knees as the wolves go after the fleeing dholes.

The Wolf Pack suffers heavy casualties, and every surviving wolf is injured. In the end, however, not a single dhole is left alive.

External links

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.