Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
December 3, 2001
The parable of the unruly dog
There was a man who lived in a big mansion. He owned a dog. The dog lived chained to the doghouse. When the man came home from his business trip, the dog would jump up and wag his tail.
There were things the man could learn from the dog. Instead the man said: "I'm going to teach this dog a lesson so he will no longer soil my expensive suits."
He beat the dog with a stick, and the dog would whimper and crawl away with his tail between his legs. It would hide in the doghouse and lick its wounds.
The wife and child of the man had pity on the dog. Once in a while when the man was not around, they would throw the dog a bone, so it would stop whining in the middle of the night.
Sometimes the child would even save some of the leftover scraps off the table to feed the dog. She made the dog dance and beg for the morsels.
One day, after the man had beaten the dog a thousand times, he raised his stick once more. But before he could lower the club on the back of the beast, the dog lurched forward and bit the man on the leg.
"Why would the dog hurt my daddy?" asked the child. "Haven't we fed it the crumbs off our table?"
She tried to persuade her father to take the dog into the house. "Perhaps the dog felt left out," she argued. "It is always alone in the dark and the cold."
The father would not hear of such sentimental nonsense. "Homes are meant for people," he said. "This dog is a bad dog." He explained to his child, "It possibly has rabies."
Upon hearing this, the wife and child were filled with fear. "Don't worry," said the man, "I will take care of it." "I will protect you," he assured his family.
He took down the big gun from the wall of his den and shot the dog. "No more bad dogs," he told his wife who was pale in the face. "And stop your crying," he told the child, "these damn dogs will never bother you or your mother again."
"But, but, but," sobbed the child.
"Enough of that" said the man, "run along now."
"And you," he addressed his wife, "Why don't you take the girl to the mall and go shopping? Buy yourself a hat, or something pretty for the house."
"One thing these animals have to learn," he explained, trying to justify the loss of the beast, "is that man is superior to dogs."
"I can promise you this much," he said with grim determination, "if ever I see one of those nasty varmints in my yard again, it will be a swift one-way ticket to doggy heaven, or wherever these creatures go. I have nothing against dogs, mind you. But this one was evil. Good riddance."
"I'm going to build a big fence around this place, and you and the kid are either inside the fence or out."
The child begged the mother to buy her another dog, but the woman said, "I'm sorry dear, I have to stand by your daddy, right or wrong, for better or worse."
The child was confused. She thought dogs were OK. You could teach them tricks. The dog was her pet. And unlike humans who were always bragging to be better than you or complaining to have not enough of this or that, dogs were just dogs.
They seemed to be happy to be dogs. No matter what mood you were in, dogs could make you feel better.
After the incident with her dad the child was not so sure anymore. She looked askance at strange dogs in the neighbourhood, and wondered if they had rabies. On her way to school she talked to them softly, but carried a big stick.
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