Archive for February, 2016

Dogs in the Bible

Dogs in the Biblical and rabbinic traditions are almost as unclean as pigs. Both the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures are clear witnesses to this. Dogs are kept as guard dogs (Isaiah 56:10), never as pets. Only those who feed them dare approach them. A rich man needs such dogs because they are his “home security system.” The story assumes that the guard dogs are fed the scraps Lazarus longs to eat (cf. Matthew 15:27). Lazarus goes hungry. The dogs are fed.

Yet, those wild guard dogs, whom no one but their handlers dare approach, realize that the weak, sick man by the gate is their friend. They lick his wounds. The saliva of a dog’s mouth is sterile. The ancients discovered that when a dog licks a person’s sores or wounds, healing occurs more rapidly. Archeologists in Aschelon, Israel, have recently uncovered a center where 1,300 dogs are buried in individual plots. The site has been identified as a Phoenician semi-religious center where the sick could go, pay a fee and have trained dogs lick their wounds as medical treatment. In this parable the master refuses to help the poor sick man outside his gate — but his wild guard dogs will do what they can. They will lick his wounds. Their master will not help Lazarus. They will. Lazarus’ quiet gentle spirit breaks through their violent hostility to humans and they care for him knowing that he cares for them.

–Kenneth Bailey, “The clothes horse and the beggar,” The Presbytery of Shenango Website,
Sent from my iPad

The lost dogs…#’s 7 & 8

Friends: The following weeks I will be posting some of the chapters of my new short story entitled, The Lost Dogs of Mercy Trap. This is the first of 6-8 stories to be published in 2016. I hope you enjoy. John
(Chapter’s seven and eight)

Katy and Joseph took personal leave days from work. At ten AM they loaded Jimmy in the van and drove 35 miles north to Goldstone, WV, a city of 20,000 people. They shopped at five stores gathering dog food, treats, collars, shampoo, ropes, hardware snaps, and other supplies.

Returning to Mercy Trap around two PM they drove to the steel mill. In order to bath and groom the dogs, they would have to find a building with running water.

For the first time since the episode of abused dogs had started, Joseph felt he was getting a break. There was one bathroom with a tub and shower where the water had not been turned off. “Must be for he security guards,” Joseph mused.

“Then where are they?” asked Katy.

“Christmas break, I suspect.” He said.

“And if they show up tomorrow night?”

“Then I’ll give them a Christmas bonus to turn their heads?”

They unloaded supplies and returned to Joseph’s house, fixed PB&J sandwiches and settled around the kitchen table with pencils and note pads. It was time to be specific about the abduction, storage, care, and return of five dogs.

They worked through the afternoon and evening putting their plan on paper. At ten PM, 48 hours before the plan would unfold, Katy hugged both Jimmy and Joseph and drove home.


On Thursday and Friday Joseph took Jimmy to the hospital for volunteer time in the peds department, and then sorted mail. Katy wrote stories about awards presentations, personnel promotions, and obits.

They met for dinner at Bob Evans on Friday after work.

“Why do I feel like I’m on death row and this is my final meal?” said Katy.

Joseph and Jimmy laughed out loud.

“You worry too much,” Jimmy said. “After all what’s the worst that can happen?”

“Death before a firing squad,” she said. “Or maybe lethal injection.”

“No way,” Jimmy said. “We won’t get caught. And if we did, there’s not a jury in Mercy Trap that’d give us more than three years in the pen.”

“Okay, okay, children,” Joseph admonished. “Let’s enjoy our meal as if it is our last. We’re going to need all the energy we can muster before the night is over.”

After dinner, Katy drove home. She changed into drab pants, old shoes, and a sweatshirt with the hood pulled over her head. She took a bus to within three blocks of Joseph’s house, and walked, wondering all the while why she had agreed to such a crazy scheme.

The first three dogs were loaded without incident…mostly due to their familiarity with Joseph and his treats.

The fourth, a young Rottweiler, never having been removed from a 20-foot tether, was unruly and anxious. But a piece of Bob Evans steak calmed him considerably while they forced him into the van.

Katy and Jimmy took the four dogs to the Steel Mill while Joseph worked at getting the acceptance of a 175-pound Mastiff.

His name was Scrooge. He was a cross between a rounder and a junkyard dog. Fortunately, the mailbox for all five owners was on a post outside each property fence. Joseph always threw the treats. But, he had never entered any of the yards. Still, he was comfortable with the first four dogs. Though they would bark, it was more for the treats than out of aggression. This morning, even in the dark of night, each of the four had merely wagged their tails when he entered their yards and hooked them to a leash.

Scrooge, however, was different. He did not wear his disposition on his sleeve. He was pensive and slow to move. He never attacked the treats. Rather, he was thoughtful. He’d wait until Joseph turned his head before eyeing the treat. Then, he’d sluggishly pick it up and throw it down in one gulp.

“Hey, boy,” Joseph said as he approached the big dog and offered him a biscuit.
Surprisingly, Scrooge wagged his tail, accepted the biscuit, and allowed Joseph to remove the old chain and snap a new lead to his collar. Then, as if the two had gone on numerous walks together, they slowly and silently left the yard.

Katy and Jimmy returned and Joseph loaded Scrooge in the van. Two hours later they finished bathing the five dogs.

The lost dogs…#6

Friends: The following weeks I will be posting some of the chapters of my new short story entitled, The Lost Dogs of Mercy Trap. This is the first of 6-8 stories to be published in 2016. I hope you enjoy. John
(Chapter six)

Wednesday morning the city was abuzz with the events of the City Council meeting and the newspaper article written by Katy Shepherd.

Postman warns:
“All dogs gone!”
By Katy Shepherd
The Community Herald

Mercy Trap. WV—Joseph Christian, US Postal Service employee and local mailman, warned at last night’s City Council meeting, “Prepare yourselves, some morning soon you might wake to find your dogs have disappeared.”
Thinking he was planning to steal their dogs, five residents of Manger Avenue, each having been accused by Christian of abusing their dogs, erupted with threats against the postman.
At least 100 citizens of Mercy Trap attended the meeting in support of Christian and security guards had to disperse both groups before the meeting continued.
Last month, Christian, having witnessed multiple accounts of animal abuse along his mail route, petitioned council to investigate. Council requested that the director of the Animal Control Shelter look into the matter to determine the degree of mistreatment or cruelty.
Apparently, Animal Control did not perform any inspections. No officer of Animal Control attended last night’s meeting. Animal Control Director, Judd Slay, has not returned calls to his office and home.
Christian, a 12-year government employee has vowed to correct the living conditions of abused dogs along his mail route…while the dog owners have threatened to “get even” if Christian comes onto their properties or touches their dogs in any way.
The outspoken representative for the dog owners, Jared Asher, told this reporter following the meeting, “What right does that guy have in accusing us of animal abuse? Hell, if he’d ah had his dog chained in his yard two years ago instead of in the back seat of a car, the dog might be alive today.”
Before leaving the Court House, Christian reworded his statement about ‘disappearing dogs’ when he said to members of City Council. “How would each of you feel if upon waking tomorrow morning there were no dogs in Mercy Trap?”
I don’t know about any of you, dear readers, but personally, I’d be devastated.

Following Katy’s article were pictures taken by Joseph depicting the deplorable condition of each of the five dogs.

That morning, in an attempt to subdue tensions, Joseph’s supervisor placed a different delivery postman on Manger Avenue while Joseph sorted mail.

That evening, Joseph invited Katy for dinner with he and Jimmy.

She brought white bean soup and cornbread. He and Jimmy baked chocolate chip cookies.

Joseph told about the postal employees who supported him. Katy told about the calls, emails, and Face Book posts…mostly demanding that the dogs be taken from their owners. Jimmy told about his many classmates who had called.

“So, if no one is going to do anything for those poor creatures, what are we going to do?” Joseph asked.

Katy and Jimmy looked at him.

“What are you talking about, Dad?”

He smiled at this son.

Having a strong inclination of what he was referring to, Katy said, “You can’t be serious, Joseph?”

“Why not?” he asked.

“Well for one thing,” she said, “you could go to jail.”

“Jail! What are you talking about?” Jimmy yelled.

“I think your dad wants to steal the dogs!”

Joseph shrugged, “Not steal…borrow. Just long enough to teach those guys a lesson.”

“Dad! You gotta be kidding!”

“Your dad is not kidding, Jimmy…but, he is crazy.”

“Not crazy,” Joseph said, “just determined to make a point.”

Joseph stood, walked to the kitchen, poured a glass of water and returned. Katy and Jimmy watched and waited.

“Okay,” he said, “how about some what ifs?”

Katy slowly shook her head. Jimmy looked at his dad like he was the coolest dad on the planet.

“What if after midnight tomorrow I sneak into the yards and take the dogs?”

“Take them where, Joseph?”

“What if I put them in the old warehouse over by the river? There are a thousand storage rooms at the old steel mill. I can have food and water for them, they’ll gorge themselves and then sleep like pups…nobody’ll hear a thing.”

“And what if Jared Asher and his cronies come looking for you?”

“If Jimmy can spend the day with you, I’ll leave for work before those guys know the dogs are missing. They’ll come looking for me at the Post Office and by that time I’ll have an alibi arranged.”

  “And when the police come looking for you?”

“At lunch time I’ll go see Chief Wise. I know he’s a dog lover. He’s got three Beagles. I’ll tell him what I did and that I did it just so folks would think about life without dogs. Then, I’ll sneak the dogs back the next night with new collars, new feed bowls, with each bowl filled to the brim with food and water.”

“And you think the dog owners will be understanding and forgiving?”

“Wouldn’t anyone? I mean…” he stammered trying to find the right words. “Look, Katy. These guys must love their dogs…they’ve just never learned how to care for them. They’ll be so happy to have their dogs returned they’ll never treat them bad again. Imagine how happy Jimmy and I would be to see King again?”

And then Joseph realized that in his excitement he had said the wrong thing.

“Jimmy, I…”

“It’s okay, Dad. I understand what you mean.”

Joseph sat back at the table and looked at his two best friends.

After what seemed like ten minutes, Katy spoke. “Okay, okay,” she said. “Where do we start?”

      Joseph smiled and Jimmy screamed with joy.