Joseph Herrin (06-25-2012)
An unusual set of events occurred recently in my life that I have perceived to have the makings of a parable. This story revolves around a puppy that has quite unexpectedly come into my life. I have named him “Champ.”
Champ – Photo Taken Yesterday
Let me begin by sharing some background about my relationship with dogs. I have liked dogs since I was a child. They make wonderful pets and companions. Growing up as a child, my parents never let us have a dog, but we did have some cats. Cats can be wonderful in their own way, but they have never seemed as personable to me as a dog. As someone has said, “You can own a dog, but you can only feed a cat.” That pretty well encapsulates my feelings regarding the canine and feline members of creation.
When I became an adult and had a family of my own, we decided it would be nice to have a pet. My wife and I went to the local animal rescue kennel and picked out a young puppy that appeared to be some type of Terrier mix. The pup was only about 8 weeks old, but was very smart. We called her Precious. We kept her as an indoor pet, and from the moment we brought her home she was housebroken. When she needed to relieve herself she would go to the door and whine. Precious made us look like pet experts as she was incredibly easy to train and eager to please.
My children were young when we got Precious, and the dog was truly spoiled by an abundance of attention. Despite all the attention of my daughter Kristin, my son Josiah, and my wife, Precious was definitely my dog. If every person in the house called her at the same time, she would eagerly run to where I was at.
After we had Precious about 5 years we found ourselves away from the house on many days, so we thought it would be good to get another dog for a companion. I found someone local who was advertising a half Basset Hound, half Boston Terrier mix, and I brought a puppy home. She was cute and had a sweet disposition. We named her Blessing.
Little did I realize at the time how very different dog breeds can be. Unlike Precious, Blessing was a very slow learner. You might describe her as stubborn, but she was always sweet in her stubbornness. It took a year to housebreak Blessing, and by that time she had ruined the carpet in our home.
I began studying dog breeds soon after we got Blessing and I found that Basset Hounds are notorious for their stubbornness and difficulty to train. I also learned that Basset Hounds have the heaviest bone structure of all dogs. They are squatty, and massively boned. I used to regale people with this fact when I introduced Blessing to them. I would tell them that Blessing had a tremendous amount of bone, and most of it was in her head. She was a real bone-head, but she was a sweet bone-head.
Kristin at age 14 with Precious and Blessing
Blessing became primarily Kristin’s dog. Blessing slept in the bed with Kristin, while Precious slept with our son Josiah. The dogs made wonderful companions, and added a lot of love to our home.
About two years after the photo above was taken, my wife left me. Tony did not want to keep the dogs herself, so she told me to take them. For about five months the dogs traveled the country with me, camped with me in the woods, and shared a car with me as a primary residence. Then the Father led me to the Macon Rescue Mission and I was no longer able to keep the dogs, so Kristin took them. Kristin was staying with a family from the church she attended and I helped her erect an outdoor pen for the dogs to stay in.
Kristin took care of Precious and Blessing for a couple years. One day Kristin called me crying. She said she had let Precious outside the pen, as she was a very obedient dog and never strayed. The house was probably a couple of football field lengths from the road, but Precious had gotten over into the road and was struck by a car and killed. Precious was about 12 years old at the time. About a year later Blessing dug her way out of the kennel and she too got into the road and was killed.
This was very sad to me, as I had a lot of compassion for both of the dogs. I do believe that some people go overboard in their attention to their pets, but having a love for the animals Yahweh created is not a carnal thing. In the book of Jonah we find this remarkable verse to close it out.
“Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”
In these words Yahweh reveals that He has compassion even on the animals He has created. Yahshua echoed this truth when He stated the following.
Are not two little sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s leave (consent) and notice.
Solomon spoke of the attitude of the righteous toward the animals that are in his care.
A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal…
Jacob was such a righteous man. When he traveled long distance with many flocks and herds, Jacob showed concern for the animals in his care.
But he said to him, “My lord knows that the children are frail and that the flocks and herds which are nursing are a care to me. And if they are driven hard one day, all the flocks will die. Please let my lord pass on before his servant, and I will proceed at my leisure, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord at Seir.”
Yahweh gave Moses command even regarding the oxen that were used in the threshing of the grain.
“You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.”
I believe it is consistent with the character of Yahweh for men to show both delight and compassion toward the animals God has formed. It must truly have been a wonderful thing for Yahweh to bring representatives of every kind of animal before Adam so that the man could give a name to each one.
When my dog died, and a year later Kristin’s dog suffered a similar occurrence, I began to ponder the parable contained in these incidences. I considered that dogs, although treated as pets, are beasts. As such they represent the beast nature. Yahweh had me on a journey to subdue the beast nature and to rule over it, and my daughter had also embraced this difficult journey. I took the passing of our dogs as a sign of that work of ruling over the beast nature that Yahweh had called us to. I was called to be a leader in this even as it was my dog that perished first.
Some may find it contradictory for me to say Yahweh loves animals, and then to suggest that He used their deaths to speak such a parable, but death is a natural part of this fallen creation. Everything that is born must die, including mankind. The tragedy is not that God’s creatures die, but rather that many of them never truly live. Many animals lives are made miserable by the mistreatment of sinful men and women. Yet, a day is coming when the entire creation will rejoice as firstfruits sons of God are revealed and life is renewed in the creation.
For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
During most of the past 6-7 years since our dogs passed away I have not been in a situation where having a dog was practical. I spent three years at a rescue mission, then a few more years living out of a small camper van and traveling the nation, often staying in the homes of other saints. Only in the past year since the Father provided a bus for me to live in have I thought it might be possible to have a dog again. A great many people who travel and live in RVs have dogs as pets. At the same time, recognizing that the Father speaks through parables in such things, I did not want to do anything of my own initiative in this matter. I told the Father that I would not mind having a dog, but if it was not His will then I was content.
On Tuesday of this past week an elderly Christian sister from the Midwest section of the U.S. wrote to me and was telling me about what a good companion her little Chihuahua named Daisy was for her. I told her that I had thought of getting a dog, but I did not sense any release from the Father to do so. Later in the day she wrote to me again and sent the following message.
I’ll pray about Yahweh’s leading re: a “puppy.” Although Daisy’s 6 1/2, she’ll ALWAYS be a puppy to me… Might there be a “kill facility” near you? So MANY, MANY dogs (including LITTLE ones!) are being dumped for whatever reason. Most are put to sleep. IF you might seriously consider one someday, I can give you web sites in your area. I hope you don’t think I’m trying to pressure you! Not at all.
I did not send a reply to this e-mail. The next morning I saw that this sister had sent a further e-mail listing some website for rescue kennels in my area. I briefly looked at the links, but I sensed no leading of the Spirit to pursue this matter further. I spoke to the Father again and told Him I was content to not have a dog, or to have one, according to His will.
I spent most of the day Wednesday working on the website revision. About 6:30 P.M. I thought of taking a bike ride, which I have been trying to do regularly. There is a road not far from the RV Park I am staying at that goes out through farmland where there is very little traffic. There are corn fields and dairy farms along the way, making for a very scenic ride. It was pretty hot Wednesday, and I was debating whether to wait until later, or skip the ride altogether. The thought came to me that I should go, and I should go NOW.
I got on my bike and had just turned onto the country road, being only about a mile and a half from the RV Park, when I noticed that the county workers had recently mowed the shoulders of the road. As I was looking at the mowed grass I spotted a plastic crate off to the side of the road. As I got closer I saw that there were puppies in the crate. I stopped my bike and took a closer look. There were seven puppies altogether. Someone had abandoned them and they were all in terrible shape. I could see myriads of fleas crawling on them, and several of the puppies were already dead. There was one puppy outside of the crate walking around. He was evidently the only one with enough strength to climb out.
As I looked at the pups, I could see that they would not live much longer. The remaining ones in the crate that were still alive were panting hard. They were in the hot sun without water, and the fleas were terrible on them. I debated what I should do. I knew I could not take them all myself, and I doubted whether any but the one outside the crate would live even with the best of care. I got back on my bike and rode a little further as I considered the matter.
I remembered the sister’s e-mail from Tuesday. She had specifically said she would pray that God would send me a puppy. She had also mentioned getting an abandoned dog. It seemed more than coincidence that she had prayed this way and I was suddenly confronted with some abandoned puppies. As I thought of it, I felt that I could not leave the one strong pup to die if there was a chance I could save its life. I turned my bike around and returned to the spot and called the pup to me. He hobbled over to me and I picked him up and put him in one of the baskets on the back of my bike.
I did not like to leave the other dogs, but they were more than I could care for. Fortunately, a woman who lives nearby stopped soon after I had retrieved the one puppy, and she picked up the remaining three that were alive. My daughter heard about her doing so on Facebook, and let me know about it. The woman was not sure whether the pups would survive, but she took them home to care for them.
The puppy I picked up appeared to be between 4-6 weeks old. When I got him home I filled a five gallon bucket part way with water. A man who camps beside me has a purebred Golden Retriever that he takes meticulous care of. He washes his dog outside a couple times a week. I knew he would have some flea shampoo, so I knocked on his door. Not only did he have flea shampoo, but he had some that was recommended for puppies. As small as this dog was, I estimate that he had no less than 200 fleas on him. His gums and tongue were white from anemia as the fleas were draining the blood from his system.
I had to change the water in the bucket four times as I bathed him over about an hour and a half. I used a comb to get all of the fleas off that I could find. The puppy was exhausted when I got through, but I knew he had to feel better. The pup also threw up once, and it was evident that he had a bad case of intestinal worms. I had planned on getting him some worming medicine anyway, as worms are very common in puppies, especially those who have been kept in unclean environments.
The above photo shows the puppy right after I bathed him. He was almost too tired to hold his head up, so I helped him out a bit.
Another photo after his bath. I gave the pup some milk with a little brown sugar in it that night, and the next morning on the advice of my neighbor I went to the store and got some infant formula for him. I also got some soft dog food and worming medicine.
The puppy slept most of the next day. About every three hours the pup would wake up and I would take him outside to do his business, and then I would feed him again. Following is a shot of him the day after I picked him up.
It didn’t take too long for him to start regaining his strength. Later on in the day he was trying to climb out of the basket I was keeping him in.
I have had the puppy for three days now, and he is recovering well. After considering what to name him, I finally settled on the name “Champ.” The name seems to fit him.
Having such a little pup is similar to having a newborn baby in the house. I have been accustomed to laying down at night and sleeping soundly until daybreak. Such has not been my experience the past three nights. About every three hours Champ will wake up and start whining. I get up, take him outside and then bring him back in and feed him. He has taken to both the soft dog food and the infant formula. As you can see in the photo above, his belly is well rounded. He is eating well which is a good sign, although I can tell he is still weak from the anemia. Some color is returning to his gums and tongue.
I am uncertain what breed of dog he is. He may have some American Pit Bull Terrier in him, as well as some Rottweiler, but these are only guesses. I know that these breeds of dogs are popular with some folks around here. He may have some hound in him as he has tried to bay, or howl, on occasion when I walked out of his sight. Some dog breeds have gained a bad reputation as being vicious, but the various kennel clubs of America and other nations, as well as veterinarian associations, are against breed specific legislation when it comes to dogs. They assert that vicious dog behavior is more of an owner issue than a breed issue. The Wikipedia article on Pit Bulls states that they were raised as a hunting breed for wild hogs, and also used as companion dogs. They have on occasion been employed as rescue dogs.
As I have contemplated the parable of this recent dog rescue, I have considered the Scripture that speaks of going out to the highways and along the hedges and bringing people in to attend the wedding feast of the Son of God (Matthew 22 and Luke 14). The invitation was first sent to the nobles, the wealthy, and the upper echelons of society, but these ones were involved in the affairs of the world. They made excuses, pleading to be exempted so they would not have to discontinue their worldly involvement. The king then commanded his servants to go out and compel the poor, and crippled and blind and lame to come in, and to fill his banqueting hall.
This puppy represents those who are perishing. He was rejected, cast out alongside the road. He was in very bad shape physically even as those whom the Father is seeking to save in these last days are in bad shape spiritually. Even as I had compassion on the puppy, Yahweh has compassion on those who are perishing. I felt that if there were any possibility that I could save this one and did not put forth the effort to do so, that I would have fallen short of manifesting the love of God.
This puppy is just like a baby, even to having to drink infant formula. I believe the Father to be indicating that those whom He calls forth in these last days will include many babes. They will whine a lot. They will not be able to eat solid food. They will have to begin with spiritual milk before they grow strong enough to handle solid food which is for the mature. Laboring among such ones can be tiring, but God would call His sons and daughters to manifest patience and perseverance, not driving the flocks too hard lest they perish.
I have begun to view some videos on dog training as I desire to instill in Champ that responsiveness to my authority that I wish him to exhibit. Many whom Yahweh will call forth in these days will begin initially at ground zero. Not only will they be spiritual babes, but they will be ruled by the beast nature. They will have to be taught step by step to rule over this nature, to choose obedience over their natural desires. Those who are called to serve as trainers and instructors must manifest much patience, gentleness, and self-control as they serve in this capacity.
Moses is a shining example of one who was called to such a task. He had already undergone his own forty year period of humbling in the wilderness. Yahweh declared him to be the meekest man on the face of the earth. Moses was then called of God to serve in a leadership capacity to others who were called to endure a wilderness experience designed to humble them. It was a difficult task for Moses. The people murmured and complained even as a bunch of puppies are prone to whine incessantly. I have found that I can either choose to be annoyed at the whining of the puppy, or by exercising my spirit man I can let it pass over me without any adverse effect upon my mood.
Champ’s progress will not only be a testimony to his willingness to change, but of my patience and devotion to effecting that change in him. I anticipate that we will both learn many things along the way.
Me and Champ
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
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