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The Best of the Three
Brazilian Contest Winner
by Camila Fernandes
Right after he was born, it became evident that he was intelligent and strong: he nimbly
crawled to his mother's teats and hung there, sucking. It wasn't that, however, that set him apart
from the other dogs. They were also smart, capable of understanding what the humans said. But
they almost always gave the opposite impression. That's because most of the problems between
human beings and canines come from errors of interpretation. First, mankind doesn't understand
what the dog says, even though the dog says a lot: with its tail, its eyes, the angle of its body, and
its voice, although without words. And a dog can even understand when a man asks it to stop
barking, but argues in return that it has good reason to do this--by barking, of course. Other dogs
might think that the shout or abrupt gesture of its owner are just part of the game, and persist in
the error. Yet others hear the kindly words of the man, but, because they have already suffered so
many misunderstandings, they no longer believe them. And they growl, and bite, and flee.
In short, he was born intelligent and strong. But that wasn't what separated him from the
The difference was that he had three heads.
As soon as his mother's licks freed him from the placenta, the three heads stuck
themselves to three teats and sucked voraciously. They found no competition. The litter's other
two pups came out stillborn. Noting this, the bitch gave them a fitting end, sending them back
into her body, bite by bite.
The man didn't mind her eating the dead puppies. What bothered him were the extra two
heads for a single living pup.
"He killed the others in the womb," said his wife, "to have the mother to himself."
"Don't talk nonsense, woman. Dogs are born dead just as often as children or goats. This
dog was born for the gods. We should give it to them."
Everyone knew what that meant. When a baby was disowned by the father or unwanted
by the mother, it also was given to the gods. It was taken to the woods and exposed to the sun,
wind, and beasts, and could survive only by divine grace. Since the gods had strange and fickle
desires, it wasn't prudent to question them, just to abide by them.
So, on the next quarter moon, the man wrapped the dog in an old rag, like a baby, and
walked outside the village, until he arrived at the entrance to a cavern. There, he deposited the
bundle, knelt on the ground, made a silent prayer, and left.
The dog remained there the entire day, sleeping. A long time later, he awoke and,
although his six eyes were not yet open, noted the absence of his mother's heat and cried like
only dogs can. It was in vain, because no one came, and the little dog, weak and tired, prepared to
The sun's chariot dove slowly in the sky when the cave's ground grinded and roared and
opened inward, crinkling down like a flower of stone petals. From the rift emerged a man.
Behind him, a woman.
"Another one?" he grumbled in an echoing voice. "Someone needs to advise these people
that we don't need any more rejected children down below. Do you think they'll understand if I
send an earthquake?"