Day 11 – Dogs

Some dogs are not as brave as others.

Some dogs are not as brave as others.

The topic for tomorrow – Day 11 – Tues. Nov. 25 of the 2014 30 (40) Days of Blogging Challenge is


Man’s Best Friend! Now, being a document from the Middle East, where dogs are not highly favored, the Bible has some harsh words about dogs.

Why? Well, if you know anything about dogs, you know that they can revert to pack mentality very quickly (this author once saw a pack of formerly domesticated dogs chase down a deer. It was the Basset Hound that finally got him!) In the ancient world, as today, there were numerous troops of wild dogs living off the city rubbish dumps. They became so fierce and disliked that cruel enemies were poetically called ‘dogs’. The dog was an unclean animal; it could not be eaten. Despite its usefulness to man, the name ‘dog’ was used as an insult.

‘Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who reverts to his folly.’ – Proverbs 26:11

‘Jehu said “Throw her (Jezebel) down”. So they threw her down; some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, which trampled her. Then Jehu went in and ate and drank; he said “See to that cursed woman and bury her; for she is a king’s daughter.” Knife handle excavated from Gebel-el-Arak; these royal hunting dogs could easily take down a lion But when they went to bury her, they found no more than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. Jehu said ” This is the word of the Lord, who said that the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel”. – 2 Kings 9:33-37

‘Israel’s sentinels are all silent dogs that cannot bark; dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber. The dogs have a mighty appetite; they never have enough.’ – Isaiah 56:10-11

But not all references to dogs were insults or based on bad habits. There were pets and house dogs. These were more like the good-natured domesticated dogs we know today.

‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores…’  – Luke 16:19-21

‘But the Canaanite woman came and knelt before Jesus, saying “Lord help me”. He answered “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” – Matthew 15:25-27

And in one book of the Bible, we even have an instance where a dog behaves like a modern pet – in the Book of Tobit. Tobit’s son sets out on a long journey, unaware that his fellow traveller is the angel Raphael. As they leave, the family dog tags along behind them, and stays with them all through the journey. When they return the dog returns with them.

‘The boy and the angel left the house together, and the dog came out with him and accompanied them. – Tobit 6:1

‘When they reached Caserin close to Ninevah … The dog went with the angel and Tobias, following at their heels.’ – Tobit 11:2,4

The one thing I know about the dogs in my life – they love. Here is some exalted words on what dogs can teach us, and how they can be morally superior to us, from two great saints.

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“A Dog is better than I because he loves and does not judge.”
– Abba Xanthios
St. Basil writes:

“The dog is not gifted with a share of reason; but with him instinct has the power of reason.  The dog has learnt by nature the secret of elaborate inferences, which sages of the world, after long years of study, have hardly been able to disentangle.  When the dog is on the track of game, if he sees it divide in different directions, he examines these different paths, and speech alone fails him to announce his reasoning.  The creature, he says, is gone here or there or in another direction.  It is neither here nor there; it is therefore in the third direction.  And thus, neglecting the false tracks, he discovers the true one.  What more is done by those who, gravely occupied in demonstrating theories, trace lines upon the dust and reject two propositions to show that the third is the true one? But the dog is said to smell the first, the second, and the third.  If he started off on the third without smelling, he would reason.  As it is, there is no “syllogism.”

Eis Polla Eit Dogspota!

“oes not the gratitude of the dog shame all who are ungrateful to their benefactors?  Many are said to have fallen dead by their murdered masters in lonely places.  Others, when a crime has just been committed, have led those who were searching for the murderers, and have caused the criminals to be brought to justice.  What will those say who, not content with not loving the Master who has created them and nourished them, have for their friends men whose mouth attacks the Lord, sitting at the same table with them, and, whilst partaking of their food, blaspheme Him who has given it to them?” – St. Basil the Great,  Hexaemeron

 Today, blog on the dog.

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About Fr. John A. Peck

Director of the Preachers Institute, priest in the Orthodox Church in America, award-winning graphic designer and media consultant, and non-profit administrator.
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