BBC Radio 2 - Pause for Thought
2nd August 2003
In the grounds of the estate where I work, there is a set of gravestones. Underneath, are buried a horse and a dog. One inscription written in 1841 by Major J P Holford fondly describes his horse as “fleetest of the mountain race; my gallant, docile, hawk-eyed grey.”
In a second inscription, written two years later, he commends his dog as “the noble, grateful Guard.” He then states: “May he who readeth this equal him in faithfulness and truth. Man can learn virtue from a dog.”
The Vedic scriptures on which Hinduism is based agree; and suggest that all creatures, being sparks of the divine spirit, can teach us useful lessons. Dogs, particularly, have several laudable traits. They rise immediately from sleep, whereas we need the generous use of cold water and stimulating beverages to shake off our night’s rest.
They are alert – usually because they think there is some treat in store – food, walkies or they’ve just spotted the neighbour’s dog.
But, most importantly, say the scriptures, dogs demonstrate exceptional loyalty and faithfulness. They are eager to please and their dearest delight is being rewarded with affection. One spiritual master analysed the difference in psychology of a dog with a good master and the poor street dog. Even if smaller and weaker, a dog with a master feels happy, satisfied and confident in his master’s care. In contrast, the street dog is in constant anxiety, fearful of anything remotely threatening and rarely feels peace or contentment.
If dogs with their wild wolf backgrounds can show such faithfulness to us, humans, can we not, in turn, place our trust in the protection of our Lord and Master? Dogs don’t always understand everything we do for them. Sometimes, like during a trip to the vet’s, they must think we are being horribly cruel. But, they remain devoted. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if as Major Holford challenged, we could equal them in faithfulness, expressed through our devotion to God. Perhaps, then our tails would wag as readily and as guilelessly as any young pup.© BBC This script was commissioned by the BBC for broadcast as “Pause for Thought” on Radio 2.