By: Paige Figueroa
Being a Christian and a dog groomer, as well as an ardent animal lover by nature, I have contemplated the evolution of the position of dogs in present society as compared to Bible days.
I have been in other countries where dogs skulk around, belonging to no one, always looking for a morsel of food, no particular breed, just a dog, a scavenger. On the other side of the spectrum, I’ve groomed dogs that get their fluff and polish every week. These little darlings get special foods, are hand fed, go to the veterinarian for every little malady.
We are confronted with two extremes. Have you ever asked yourself about the historical journey through the centuries it took for our domesticated dogs to evolve into four-legged children in our society? A total spending estimate in 2016 for dogs and cats in 2017 was at 66.75 billion dollars. How did we get to the place where the word “dog” was a derogatory word, associated with eating the dead and lapping up blood, during Biblical days?
Dogs were scavengers. The greyhound was the only breed that had honorable mention. Proverbs 30:31, “A greyhound of the four animals mentioned which is ‘comely in going.’”
Apparently greyhounds were already recognizable as a breed. There are only a few positive references to dogs in the Bible. However, in Isaiah 56:10 Israel’s sinful leaders are compared to dumb dogs, nothing like Old Yeller, or Lassie Come Home, or any of our many lovely dog stories that make you cry and laugh. Dogs were despicable creatures, with most vile people described as and compared to dogs. In 1Kings 14:11, King Jeroboam was a real jerk and brought calamity on his lineage. Of his bloodline, 15 were told that in cities the dogs would eat the dead cadavers and in the fields birds would pick their bones.
The main job of dogs throughout scriptures was devouring remains of dead stuff. Remember Jezebel? “On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel…”
There are numerous places which mention that the innate behavior of a dog, whether it weighs 4 lbs. or 170 lbs. is as a scavenger. We had a 10 lb. Shih Tzu mix, Ping Pong, and a Shetland sheepdog; they loved to venture into the cow pasture. Yeah, you guessed it. They rolled in manure, and dragged home dead stinky stuff. Our cute little fluffy friends were still dogs. Thousands of years did not change their nature.
I quote from Matthew 7:6, “Do not give what is holy to dogs,”… the comparison of dogs to humans who are ungodly, scavengers, skulking about associated with that which is rotten and dead. What about Proverbs 26:11, “like a dog to its vomit, so a fool repeats its folly.” Boy, how many times have I seen this used against humans.
Our habitual behavior makes us keep repeating the same broken behavior. Evil people in Philippians 3:2, Revelation 22:15, people compared to dogs, along with sorcerers, immoral people, murderers, idolaters, people that practice lying. Seems like throughout the Bible, dogs do not have a position of adoration and appreciation like in our society today.
Have we, someplace along the way, misplaced the real value placed on pets? I want to leave a thought with you, though. In the Garden of Eden everything was influenced by the fall of mankind. In my own weird thinking, I have a “what if” hypothesis: Dogs had a higher placement before sin entered into the garden, but when sin came into the picture, there was a need to have something to clean up human messes. Could that possibly be true?
A bright spot in all this is knowing that full restoration is promised and is coming our way. Just like for our lives, there will be a redeeming power of life as well as a balanced appreciation for God’s creatures. As redemption brightens up our understanding, it has shed light on God’s creation, especially as it pertains to dogs. After all, they are man’s best friend.
By: Paige Figueroa