Chapter 1 Summary
The narrator exits his office on a beautiful afternoon, contemplating the perfection of the day. He whistles a tune that expresses his peace of mind and contentedness. Suddenly, his calm is disturbed by the sound of a vicious dogfight. Before he can react, a throng of dogs rushes toward him from an alley, and he takes refuge near the edge of the sidewalk. As the dogs move past him, he realizes that a single dog is being attacked by the horde of others. He fears that the lone dog will be killed by the pack if he does not intervene or call for help. As he considers his decision, the dog under attack makes a stunning impression upon him. He rises from the midst of the throng, courageously fighting against the other dogs and gaining a strategic position underneath some shrubbery. With his back to the tree and facing the other dogs, the narrator gets a glimpse at him. He is astonished to see that the courageous dog that has braved this fierce battle is a red hound.
One after another, the dogs in the pack swiftly attack the hound. The succession of defeats by the hound is equally swift. After the hound decisively defeats several of the dogs, the narrator intervenes. First he screams and thunders at the dogs in an attempt to scare them away. When these efforts fail, he uses his jacket to smack the dogs away and disperse the throng. Once the dogs have scattered, the narrator approaches the hound and coaxes him from beneath the bushes.
The narrator is moved with pity when he sees that the dog is filthy and malnourished. He examines the dog’s paws and realizes that the dog has traveled a great distance and is likely far from home. He takes the animal to his home, where he tenderly bathes and generously feeds him. He allows the hound to rest for the entire night and most of the next day. That night, however, the animal becomes so restless that the narrator mercifully sets him free. Surprisingly, the act of freeing the animal brings the narrator to tears.
As he releases the hound, the narrator considers the dog’s probable history. He believes that the dog, whose collar was inscribed with the name Buddie, is probably in search of his home. He speculates that the dog is determined to find his way back to his home and the owner who must love him.
The narrator re-enters his house in a contemplative mood. He prepares to lounge in his rocker in front of a warm fire. As he strikes a match to light his pipe, his eyes rest on two trophies that decorate his mantle. These prizes remind him of significant events from his past, and he is in the perfect mood for reminiscing.