The Dog Blog

As I am sure you have probably already heard, Kinship Christian Radio is sponsoring a big, exciting, amazing “Dog Days Competition” from now until August 8.

 

All you have to do to participate is take a cute or funny picture of your pet and post it on the Kinship Facebook page or email it to the general email address. The winner will be chosen by the vast North American General Public and will receive a 25 dollar gift certificate to your local pet store and a hardcover book by Max Lucado called “Safe in the Shepherd’s Arms”!

 

The winner will be announced on August 12 on the Kinship Facebook page.

 

Many of you already know that the phrase “dog days of summer” originated with the ancient Greeks and is a reference to the position of Sirius, the dog star, in the summer sky. This usually coincides with the hottest days of summer.

 

Of course, the competition and the phrase got me to thinking about dogs, and that got me to thinking about my brothers and sisters in the Dominican Republic.

 

Yes, that seems like quite a stretch, so please allow me to explain.

 

On my first mission trip to the Dominican Republic, we hired a tour guide to take us around the Colonial Section of Santo Domingo, the capital, so we could learn something of the history and culture of our hosts.

 

We’ve all been told that Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, but what we often forget is that Columbus did not land on Plymouth Rock or anywhere near the United States. No, Columbus landed on a large island he called Hispaniola, which was later divided into Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The capital city, Santo Domingo, was built in 1496 and the home of Diego Columbus (Christopher’s son) still stands there as does the oldest cathedral in the Americas.

 

At one point, our tour guide told us the word “Domincan” means “dog of God.”

 

I found that repellent and even demeaning as I could not think of any Bible verses that cast dogs in a positive light, let alone imagine why God would need a guard dog or anything like it. So, because I’m the guy who can’t let things like that just go away without ever thinking about them ever again, I looked it up.

 

What I found was that the Dominicans were a group of friars and nuns within the Roman Catholic Church founded by Saint Dominic in 1215. (That’s over 300 years before the Reformation, so there were no Lutherans at the time, folks.) They were an order of preachers founded to preach the Gospel.

 

Okay, that’s wonderful, but there’s no dog connection there, so what gives? As it turns out, the word “Dominican” is actually a pun for “Domini canes” which means “dog/hound of God” in Latin

 

Of course! How could I have missed such an obvious connection, given my extensive knowledge and daily us of Latin? 

 

It also means “dog of God” is just a nickname based on a pun. 

 

But, wait a minute. I’m still left with the nagging thought of all those Bible verses I remember about dogs that are less than flattering:

As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly. (Proverbs 26:11)

He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” (1 Samuel 17:43a)

Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. (Psalm 22:20)

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. (Matthew 7:6)

 

Indeed, many Bible scholars have noted that, at the time the Old Testament was written, to call someone a dog was to call them evil and imply they were of very low status. It is said this is so because at that time most of the dogs of ancient Israel ran wild and usually in packs. They probably survived largely on carrion, garbage, and scraps. While the dog is not listed as a ritually unclean animal in the Bible, eating carrion and (presumably) garbage was an unclean behavior.

 

Somewhere around the second century before Christ, Jewish and Greco-Roman art and literature begin to show the dog in a new and better light. Roman tombstones for pet dogs have even been found dating back almost 2000 years. The parable of Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) has dogs licking his sores. There is evidence that about this time, dogs came to be associated with healing.

 

There is also ample evidence that dogs were used in hunting and herding about this time, which would involve a considerable degree of interaction and companionship with humans.

 

The phrase “man’s best friend” in reference to dogs was coined by Frederick the Great of Prussia in the 18th Century and popularized by Ogden Nash in the 20th Century. Dogs only seemed to have gained the full measure of their immense popularity and reputations for faithfulness, companionship, and unconditional love after the discovery of the rabies vaccine in 1869. 

 

And so, it seems that our great love of our dogs is greatly and mostly attributable to the skills and blessings God has given us through veterinarians in our midst. (Yes, that is an obvious and transparent attempt to pander to a dear friend and fellow missionary.) 

 

Now that you have been filled with a vast knowledge of our beloved canine pets, remember to submit your adorable photos for consideration and the enjoyment of your brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Photos of cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, snakes, lizards, rabbits, pot-belly pigs, budgies, cockatiels, parrots, goldfishes, and whatever else you have are also allowed, but compared to a Chihuahua in plaid flannel…well, it’s probably a good thing I’m not eligible to compete.

 

Today’s Praise

 When Gideon took his warriors down to the water, the LORD told him, “Divide the men into two groups. In one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs. In the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream.” Only 300 of the men drank from their hands. All the others got down on their knees and drank with their mouths in the stream. Judges 7: 5&6 (NLT)

 

(Photo of Sophie in resplendent buffalo plaid by Tracy Jones, used with permission.)

 

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