Once there was a farmer who grew corn with the help of his ox, his cat, and his pup. In the spring, Farmer plowed the field with steadfast Ox. Upon harvest in the fall, Cat watched over the corn to keep out the rats. Pup was a new addition, having only been brought to the farm a month before harvest time. His job was to keep deer out of the corn field.
Farmer liked to think he treated all of his animals well. Ox was a self-motivator, a quiet type who did his chores with no fuss. Farmer supplied Ox with food and a stall, and left him alone when Ox was not needed for plowing or clearing the field.
Cat liked to cat around. Some days Cat cut out for town, leaving Farmer, Ox, and new Pup to take care of the corn. But after the harvest, Cat pretty much stayed put. Rats were swiftly dispatched if they tried to steal the corn.
Pup was still learning the ropes. A scant month into his job, he figured out that corn was good, and deer were bad. He yipped and yapped when deer ventured into the cornfield. The deer gradually reached a consensus that it would be easier to find tasty treats elsewhere than Farmer's corn field.
Over the years, Farmer developed a habit of talking to Cat on a daily basis. Sometimes Cat followed him into the house and sat down for a saucer of milk. Other days, Farmer stopped by the barn to visit Cat and provide a good scratch behind Cat's ears.
The night before harvest, Farmer, Ox, Cat, and Pup stood by the fence and admired the corn. "Did you ever see such a fine field of corn, Cat? It's superior to the corn grown across the state this year. Significantly superior." He motioned for Cat to join him, and walked along the fence row, praising Cat for the fine crop.
"But I haven't really contributed to this harvest yet," mewed Cat.
Pup gamboled after them, begging to be noticed.
Ox hung his head. A single oxish tear slipped out of his eye. He plodded back to the barn to rest up for the work that lay ahead.
The moral of this fable? Every now and then, even an ox needs validation.