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Wolf! Wolf!

A Shepherd Boy tended his master’s sheep near a dark forest not far from the village. Soon he found life in the pasture very dull. All he could do to amuse himself was to talk to his dog or play on his shepherd’s pipe.

One day as he sat watching the Sheep and the quiet forest, and thinking what he would do should he see a Wolf, he thought of a plan to amuse himself.

His Master had told him to call for help should a Wolf attack the flock, and the Villagers would drive it away. So now, though he had not seen anything that even looked like a Wolf, he ran toward the village shouting at the top of his voice, “Wolf! Wolf!”

As he expected, the Villagers who heard the cry dropped their work and ran in great excitement to the pasture. But when they got there they found the Boy doubled up with laughter at the trick he had played on them.

A few days later the Shepherd Boy again shouted, “Wolf! Wolf!” Again the Villagers ran to help him, only to be laughed at again.

Then one evening as the sun was setting behind the forest and the shadows were creeping out over the pasture, a Wolf really did spring from the underbrush and fall upon the Sheep.

In terror the Boy ran toward the village shouting “Wolf! Wolf!” But though the Villagers heard the cry, they did not run to help him as they had before. “He cannot fool us again,” they said.

The Wolf killed a great many of the Boy’s sheep and then slipped away into the forest.

Liars are not believed even when they speak the truth. —Aesop’s Tales, The Library of Congress,

Wolf! Wolf!

Why did the shepherd boy cry wolf? He was bored, he wanted excitement, he wanted attention. But instead of the numerous creative ways he could have made life more interesting, he chose lies and destruction.

What could he have done instead of crying wolf? He could have: Mastered his flute. Composed songs, written lyrics. Learned the local botany. Learned about the local healing herbs. Collected rocks and built a fire pit. Built a small fire and cooked. Invited a friend by for a meal. Meditated. Prayed. Read a book (assuming one was available.) Played with the lambs (they love to jump and play.) Taught his dog to do tricks. Made a business plan.

But instead of choosing constructive or at least non-harmful actions, he chose lies and destruction. In a way, he created the wolf which destroyed his flock, for if he hadn’t lied the first few times, the villagers would have come running and saved his sheep.

The obvious moral lesson is: Don’t lie. But there is more wisdom hidden in this simple tale of Aesop.

Don’t complain about “nothing”.

Don’t seek pointless attention.

Do fill at least some of your free time with creative or at least non-destructive actions.

Do develop your ability to spend time alone, find the healing possibilities.

Don’t manipulate people and then freak out when they stop allowing themselves to be manipulated.

Do act as an honest broker.

Don’t look to others to solve your boredom or need for attention.



Wolf! Wolf!

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. Zwolinski

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC is the author of Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On Without Wasting Time or Money and is licensed in addiction and psychotherapy with over 25 years experience as well as a consultant to organizations and companies in the fields of mental health and addiction. He is the executive director of an outpatient behavioral health program. Learn more about Richard here.

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APA Reference
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2017). Wolf! Wolf!. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 10, 2018, from


Last updated: 7 Sep 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Sep 2017
Published on All rights reserved.