Avoid Those Dreadful Dogs!

Published 2:07 pm Wednesday, April 6, 2022

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I have only owned a few dogs in my life, one of which was a Pointer that I hunted with a lot. She was skilled at finding birds but had a bad habit of not holding a point very long. If I was not nearby when she pointed a covey she would dive into them before I had a chance to fire a shot. Truth be known, the result was about the same for the quail whether the dog flushed them up or I shot at them—their chances of surviving to live a long and prosperous life were pretty high in either scenario!

Even though I have not had a lot of dogs to call my own, I have encountered more than my share of them. Like the one that was down the road from us when I was growing up. It always chased me as I rode my bicycle down the highway. It was big and frightening to me and it became even more of a threat after she managed to bite me on the hip one day as I peddled along.

There were many canine encounters as I visited homes over the years when I served as a hospice chaplain. Thankfully most of them were little more than episodes of being barked at, and I was usually able to convince the unhappy animal that I respected his territory, allowing both of us to call it a draw and continue on about our business. I well remember one incident, however, that turned out with me being the loser at the hands (or more accurately, the teeth) of a critter named Missy. Missy was rather small but fierce. She seemed to despise my presence in her yard and always worked really hard to let me know so. After having a nice visit in the home with her owners, it was time for me to head on to my next stop. My journey to the car was Missy’s signal and out she came. I was a bit younger and probably in better shape back then, so I hastened my steps, opened the car door, and started to close the door between Missy and myself—but it didn’t turn out as planned. Just as I started to close the car door, she grabbed my shoe. I was able to shake her loose but to the loss of a chunk of leather out of my nice dress shoes. I hope she felt vindicated through her actions against me since I had committed the horrible mistake of entering her territory!

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That was a long time ago and no real damage was done, yet it is one of those events that will be planted in my mind from now on. And even though I have retired from my chaplain’s position, I still have to contend with dogs that are not my own. In fact, our oldest granddaughter recently got a puppy—and wouldn’t you know it, she is a biter!

In the letter that the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Philippi, he included an interesting statement that we might find even strange: “Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh” (Philippians 3:2, New International Version). He was not using the term “dogs” to refer to little friendly lap dogs in his illustration, but ferocious scavengers that ran in packs doing much damage. He used that imagery to refer to those individuals who ferociously, albeit often subtly, misinformed and sought to deceive the people of the church into accepting teaching that was not true to the ways of God. Just as I learned to watch out for dogs that wanted to attack me, we all need to learn to watch out for those who doggishly want to lead us astray spiritually with their false teachings. That is yet another reason for us to be students of God’s Word. As Psalm 119:105 reminds us, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” When we study and follow the Bible, we have solid protection against those kinds of dreadful dogs.