As I reached the brow of the hill, I could see him waiting for me.
He was actually waiting for anyone to walk in front of his property. Daily he would protect what he considered to be his corner which consisted of a few rental cottages and a small confectionery store. Even as a twelve year old, I found it odd that a business that depended on walk-in customers would keep an untied and ill-tempered full sized black Doberman pinscher on their property, not to mention the public road that led to my elementary school. Passing this mean and at times vicious dog was a common noon-time challenge for the few kids who walked to and from school on Premier Road.
Younger readers may find such a situation hard to imagine. The best way I can explain the world of the fifties is a pervasive belief by parents that kids should learn early how to take care of themselves. Anything short of requiring multiple stitches for a dog bite would not prompt adult intervention or indeed even a telephone call to the owner to complain about the situation. There were simply no animal control agencies to call. By the same token, protecting yourself in a physical manner did not elicit the actions of any animal protection agencies. As a child, I well remember an upset neighbor shooting a purebred Boxer in the offending dog’s own yard. The police gently admonished the man for discharging a firearm in a built up area. There were no other charges.
At the age of twelve, I had long since learned the art of either ignoring or blustering my way past this nasty waist-high beast that was always outside and blocking the road at 12:45 P.M. On this particular day, his mood appeared somewhat darker than usual as I approached. His tail was between his legs and his menacing growl was, well, more menacing than usual. He was baring his teeth as he growled louder and louder. Bluster would not work on this day, nor would ignoring him. It was winter and in the fifties, pre-teens wore very uncool large and heavy boots called over-shoes in the winter. I took very careful aim, kicked with all the strength I could muster and my right boot caught the Doberman right under the chin. His head snapped back and his body arched in a sickening manner as he collapsed apparently unconscious to the side of the road. Suspecting he would wake up soon in an even worse mood, I continued on my way to school. The incident was so minor, I probably neglected to mention the encounter to anyone over the age of thirteen.
The next day I approached the corner establishment with great caution. Indeed I had spending money in my pocket at the ready for a purchase of candy. My nemesis was sitting on his property well back from the side of the road and simply stared sullenly at me as I passed and entered the store. He was never to approach me again.
Anyone who has read more than three of my messages will know that I am a dog lover. The exploits of our English Springer Spaniel named Marley are close to legendary. Her picture has actually been published in my blog. For this reason, I marvel at the reputation of dogs in the Bible. The word “dogs” appears 23 times in the entire Holy Bible. With the exception of one parable, the word “dogs” bring forth visions of those being thrown to the dogs or dogs cleaning up after a battle. Dogs are associated with the wicked, the greedy, the fraudulent; not to mention murderers and idolaters. The singular word “dog” is present eighteen times and is used for a negative connotation each and every time. The one parable where "little dogs" are presented in a more positive manner is in Matthew 15: 22-28.
22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”
23 But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”
24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”
26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
One has to remember in this parable that Jesus is simply stating the fact that He came first to offer salvation to the Jewish nation. This Canaanite woman, like me and perhaps you, is a Gentile. Our time for salvation was to follow after His death on a Roman cross. This woman shows remarkable understanding and humility. Instead of being insulted by the reference to little dogs, she embraces the metaphor and by doing so shows her great humility and faith. Jesus healed her daughter at that very moment! Given the obvious bias against the word “dogs” in the Holy Bible, I find it all that more heartening that Jesus loved, before their time had come, even the “little dogs”, especially those who showed Him their faith.
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