The Quick Red Fox and the Howling Hound
Once upon a time a man who lived all alone in a small farming village was given a pup. He was a gangly creature with funny floppy ears — no beauty prizes would he ever win — but the little hound was very loving and his owner grew very fond of him. Every day the man would take his dog out to the field with him as he hoed his corn; at night he’d put the hound in a pen in his back yard and go to bed.
Down the street a ways lived an elderly widow with a big rambling back yard. One night a prowling fox found the place to his liking and took up residence under an old shed in this yard.
Thus began an interesting routine: at night the fox, off on his hunting expedition, would hurry past the dog’s pen. The hound would catch sight of it and would bark and howl. Then he’d settle down and sleep for some hours.
At the first light of dawn the fox would slip back to its den. The dog, catching a whiff of it, would start baying again.
The owner didn’t know what was setting the dog off, but he concluded it must be some wild animal passing. Anyway, dogs do bark now and then. He gave the matter little thought until one morning his neighbor came banging on his door.
When he opened the door his neighbor shook a fist in his face. “You have to get rid of that howling hound! He’s keeping me awake all night long.”
The owner was amazed. “How can that be! My dog only barks a few times at night and a few times in the morning. It’s not like he’s barking all night long.”
“That may be,” said the scowling neighbor. “But I lie awake all night because I never know when he’s going to bark.”
So is he who anxiously anticipates troubles that is he certain will come sooner or later.
Epilogue: The dog was spared because the neighbor, after getting all hot and bothered about the issue and losing many nights of sleep, finally made his request to the one who could actually do something about the matter.
(Note: This is my adaptation of an old fable.)