My humble attempt at war commentary. I think this was also inspired by a short play that I read involving suitcases that spoke to each other. In the play, each suitcase had a personality that sort of matched the type/condition of the suitcase. So I thought, I want to do that with dogs.
Dogs of War
Characters: Tobi: a mangy Border Collie, wears spots
Floyd: a thick, jet-black Labrador
Maya: a scraggly mutt; clothes/colors mismatched
Arbusto: a tall, commanding German Shepherd
Chummy: a fat, ill-disposed Bulldog
Outside in a rural area. Night.
Arbusto: …and when you’ve chased them long enough, they’ll be easy picking. Just make sure you all concentrate on the same one.
Chummy: And the females are less likely to give you a fight.
Arbusto: Yeah, but don’t be afraid to take down a buck if you find one. A few nights ago I watched one mark MY yard. I couldn’t even fix it until morning.
Chummy: And there’ll be more food for all of us!
Arbusto: So there you have it, men. Er, uh… folks.
Chummy: If there’s a repeat of last night, you all better start looking for a new pack.
Arbusto and Chummy exit while Tobi, Floyd, and Maya glance at each other.
Tobi: I’m so tired of running around.
Maya: Every night I think we’ll get a break.
Tobi: But then some other animal gets on Arbusto’s bad side.
Floyd: Listen, Arbusto is right. How would you like it if wild animals were using your yard?
Tobi: Hey, I don’t like it either, but it’s our people that forced them out of the wild in the first place.
Maya: They’re so hard to control. I see new yards popping up all over the place.
Floyd: You know as well as I do, those are mostly Cat-people. No self-respecting Dog would let his person tear down a forest full of animals. That’s just bad food moderation.
Maya: That’s true.
Tobi: You’re both missing the point. The animals feel threatened, so they lash out. Take away the threat, and what happens?
Maya: Just accidents, I guess. Except for the occasional Bad Animal.
Tobi: Exactly. And I think we could all live with that.
Floyd: Are you done with your preaching? You’re hungry aren’t you?
Tobi: God, yes. My person’s put me back on the dry food diet. It’s all I can do to keep it down.
Floyd: Then let’s go. It’ll make the Big Dogs happy.
Maya: He’s right Tobi. We can’t change those things. Let’s just make Arbusto happy.
Tobi: (reluctantly) Alright… lets go.
Scene 2: Spotlight on Tobi, Floyd, and Maya, who appear to be crouching around and feasting on a large animal.
Tobi: Floyd, you have got to stop chasing the deer the second you see it. I’m the herder. I’ll tire it out and bring it around to you. Then YOU do the dirty work.
Floyd: I can’t help chasing. It’s in my nature.
Tobi: Well it’s pretty damn stupid to have the big, dumb, slow one chasing after a lightning-quick animal.
Floyd: Watch it, buddy. We got it, didn’t we?
Tobi: Only because I told Maya to come at it from the other side.
Maya: Hey! I was gonna do that anyway.
Tobi: (smiling at her) You did great. You can be a real bitch when you want to.
Maya: (smiling back) Awe, thanks Tobi. You know, you just looked adorable with your fur all ruffled when Floy…
Floyd: (sarcastically) Great! Puppy love… You know, why don’t you two let me know when you grow up. I deserve a little credit here. I mean, I did spot the thing.
Tobi: (laughing) Haha, poor Floyd. You know I’m just pulling your tail.
Arbusto and Chummy creep onstage. Chummy approaches the group.
Floyd: Well, when you and Maya are done sniffing each others’ butts, how bout a little back scratching. I’ve got a big knot from all that running.
Tobi: Ha, that’s what your person is for. (pause) Sh… Did you hear something?
Chummy: A postman could’ve snuck up on you fools.
Tobi: Ah! I thought I smelled compost. Been rolling around in the manure again, Chummy?
Maya: Tobi, don’t.
Chummy: Better listen to her, bones. I could tear you to shreds.
Floyd: Yeah, and what would you do to me?
Arbusto: Well, well, well. (all slink back as Arbusto moves past Chummy and stares them down) Started the feast without me, did you? Very bold of you. Lets see what we have here.
Chummy: Probably nothing but a fawn.
Arbusto pushes past and looks down at the animal on the floor.
Arbusto: Well, Chummy, I think you owe our friends an apology. This is the very deer that soiled my lawn not two days ago.
Arbusto: Well, friends. I think I may have some work a little more befitting of your prowess. Listen closely.
(all lean in as lights fade)
Scene 3: Next night. A white wooden fence.
Tobi: I can’t believe we’re out here. This is crazy.
Maya: Deer are one thing, but bulls? This is getting dangerous. Even with Floyd here.
Floyd: I’m not scared of any cows. Slow as molasses.
Tobi: They aren’t that slow. See how it feels to have one chasing you down a hill. Those suckers can really get going.
Maya: Oh, wow. And all that momentum… If they fell they’d roll you right over. Even a big guy like you would be a pancake, Floyd.
Floyd: We’ll see about that. I bet they can’t turn very quick.
Maya: Look at those horns! They could impale any one of us with a flick of the neck
Floyd: So stay away from the horns, doofus. I thought you were some kind of tough bitch.
Tobi: Floyd, it’s not the danger I’m worried about here. Does this feel right to you?
Floyd: Sure, I guess… Arbusto said he didn’t find that buck sooner because it was hiding out on this farm. They deserve it.
Tobi: Do they? Do you really think those cattle had any control over a farm this big?
Maya: I never thought of it that way…
Floyd: Stop with your idealism, Tobi. These are Bad Animals.
Maya: I don’t remember them doing anything to us. Or Arbusto. How could they? They’re inside the fence.
Tobi: Exactly. Don’t you see, Floyd? Arbusto just wants the land so he can run around as much as he wants without being bothered. It’s all about power and greed.
Floyd: No. Chummy told us they have an escape plan.
Maya: That’s right! Tobi, what if they have an escape plan?
Tobi: Then nothing. They have never tried to hurt us before. Why would they now?
Maya: But they never got out before!
Floyd: Don’t you realize how much damage a herd of cattle could do if they were let free? They could destroy each one of our yards. And then they could destroy another pack’s yards. And another’s.
Tobi: Yeah, I heard the speech. Thanks for the recap.
Maya: Tobi, he’s just telling the truth.
Tobi: No. He’s telling us what Arbusto and Chummy think. How would they know about an escape plan anyway?
Maya: Well, Chummy said they had spies in the farm.
Tobi: Spies! Who, the sheep? And they would tell us the truth after Arbusto ravaged a whole herd of them last year?
Floyd: You think they’re setting us up?
Tobi: I think Arbusto doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about! Like I said before, it’s all about power!
Maya: He’ll exile us if we don’t do it, Tobi. Look what happened to Comet last month.
Floyd: Oh, I do miss her. She was so beautifully stubborn.
Tobi: Maybe I’d rather be exiled! This isn’t right. We can’t just start killing cattle because we think they might be dangerous.
Floyd: They probably are dangerous. They were pretty close to the sheep Arbusto slaughtered. Sometimes they even roamed the same field.
Tobi: So one sin begets another. And here we are, about to begin the process of wiping out thirty cattle, proof be damned.
Floyd: It’s for the pack, Tobi. It’s for the pack, that’s what he said.
Tobi: (reluctantly) Alright. I’m coming with you. Not because I think this is for the pack. Because I don’t want to see you dead when I wake up tomorrow and go out to get my person’s paper.
Floyd: You’re a true patriot. You’ll see. We’re doing the right thing. (walks ahead)
Maya: (to Tobi) I don’t know if you are right or not, but I really admire you right now. It takes a lot of guts to say what you really mean, especially to a bull-headed dog like Floyd.
Tobi: (smiling wistfully) We have to have an opinion. To blindly follow without questioning is worse than agreeing with Arbusto altogether. I just hope Floyd realizes it before it’s too late.
Maya: Hey, don’t talk like that. It’ll turn out alright.
Tobi: I always feel better with you here with me, Maya. You could brighten up a piece of coal.
Maya: (trying to hide a big smile) Oh, that was so bad.
Tobi: You liked it.
Fade to black
Scene 4: Spotlight on Floyd and Maya on the left side of the stage, standing over a downed bull.
Maya: Floyd, we did it! I don’t believe it; that was so exciting. First we were chasing one, then another one was chasing me, and POW! You come out of nowhere and take out its back legs! I thought I was done for.
Floyd: Tobi was right though, that was much harder than I though it would be. Those animals are a thing to behold when they get moving. Frankly, we were in over our heads. Why would Arbusto take a chance like this?
Maya: It’s kind of like he didn’t think it out at all
Floyd: Scary that we’re taking orders from someone so short-sighted. What if Tobi was right about everything else?
Maya: He’s pretty sharp. (looks suddenly concerned) By the way, where is Tobi? We broke apart when that bull started chasing us. He was barking like crazy, trying to get it to follow him.
(lights rise on the rest of the stage, revealing Tobi, covered in blood)
Floyd: Oh, god…
(both rush over to him, where he moves weakly)
Maya: What happened!?
Tobi: Farmer… shot… glad you’re okay.
Floyd: I knew that POW! was more than broken legs. I’m so sorry, buddy. You were right. Arbusto didn’t think this out at all. You were right about the whole thing… I;m so sorry. I should’ve listened.
Tobi: Stop… oaf… doing… thought right…
Maya: You’re going to be alright, Tobi. We’ll get you back to your people. I love you; I’m not going to lose you now. (looks hopefully at Floyd, who looks away)
Tobi: (smiles weakly) Oh… that… was… so bad…
Fade to black
Scene 5: Next night. Spotlight on Arbusto, lying alone on the ground, slumbering. Floyd enters.
Floyd: Wake up you son of a bitch!
Arbusto: (yawning) Oh… Aren’t we all
Floyd: This is no game. Tobi is dead and you are going to pay for it.
Arbusto: (laughs haughtily) Well then, come on you overgrown beast.
Floyd and Arbusto begin fighting. Floyd pins Arbusto on the ground with a hand(paw) raised, ready to strike. Chummy enters.
Chummy: (snarling) You’d better drop that paw unless you want to lose it.
Floyd’s shoulders slump, visibly defeated. He jumps off Arbusto and turns to face them both as Arbusto slowly rises beside Chummy
Floyd: (smiling now) Nothing like a fair fight.
Chummy: You’re done for, lout.
Arbusto: Wait. (to Floyd) You insolent brute. It takes sacrifice to protect a pack. A mangy herding dog like Tobi is an insignificant loss. It was for the greater good. You don’t know anything about what it takes to lead. Now, you can fight, or you can leave forever. What’ll it be?
Floyd: What good is a world where I have to watch my back every time I go outside?
Arbusto: You won’t have to. We’ll destroy the entire farm and set up a republic. The world will be peaceful.
Floyd: Ha. What will I tell my pups when they ask what happened to all of the innocent cattle who died here?
Chummy: They were planning an escape and harbored the very deer that was terrorizing Arbusto’s yard!
Arbusto and Chummy stare at Floyd, waiting for submission. Suddenly, Maya leaps out of the shadows and tackles Chummy. Chummy, outweighing Maya by quite a bit, quickly turns the tables and bites at Maya’s face. She goes limp.
Floyd: Maya! No!
Floyd brushes past Arbusto and knocks Chummy aside.
Chummy: The price of disobedience.
Arbusto: This all could have been avoided.
Floyd: You’re right. This could have been avoided. But you insisted on blindly and ignorantly stabbing at power. You care nothing for your pack. You only care about yourself. I’m leaving and taking Maya with me.
Arbusto: Go! You of no faith! You are no patriot!
Floyd: Good luck defending yourself against the herd without anyone but Chubby here to protect you. You’ve turned the world against you, Arbusto. I hope you’re ready.
Fade to black as Floyd carries Maya off the stage