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  • Shawn Thornton

Angry Dogs

Monday - October 26th

Scripture to Read Today: Proverbs 26:1-28

Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears

is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own.

Proverbs 26:17


Recently, I visited a friend who has been very sick. He has been living with his mother. Due to her age and his continuing severe health battles, they help each other by being in the same house. One evening I called her to find out what the best time to visit her son would be. She told me that he was so weak that at times he could not get out of bed. But she wanted me to spend some time with him the next day (as I had offered). She told me that before she left for work in the morning, she would tell him I would be dropping by around 11:00 in the morning for a visit. She told me she would leave the house's front door unlocked - just in case he was unable to get out of bed and meet me at the door. But, she had one major warning for me - their dog, Scootie.

It turns out that as my friend's health condition has gotten worse, Scootie has gotten more defensive toward anyone near her ailing master. This elderly mother told me stories of Scootie biting EMTs that had come to the house in emergencies. After telling me several horror stories of the dog attacking different people coming to help her son, she said, "But, you should be OK - I think."

That was not good enough for me. I wanted explicit assurances that Scootie would not bite me if I let myself in the front door and made my way to my friend's bedroom. Since no such guarantees could be made, I just planned to take a stick and a spray bottle full of water to fend off the dog. I needed to see my friend.


As I pulled up to the house, I texted my friend that I was there. After about 10 minutes, there was no reply. It was time to go through the unlocked front door and face the vicious defense dog. I climbed the four steps up to the front porch with spray bottle and stick in hand. My heart was racing. Angry dogs with a history of biting guests do not place very high on my list of favorite things.

Just as I reached for the doorknob, the door opened. My frail and shaking friend was there holding back Scootie by the collar. We had a great visit, and Scootie even came over to me to be petted.

Angry dogs can be dangerous. They can attack quickly, viciously, and relentlessly. It is no wonder that Proverbs 26:17 says, "Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears

is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own." Unfamiliar, stray dogs may not be angry dogs, but you don't know. No dog likes having someone grab their ears. That is why grabbing the ears of a stray dog serves as a vivid image in warning about a particular action.

The vast majority of the time, when we take up someone else's cause in a quarrel, we make things far worse. Our motives might be pure. We might have an accurate perspective, but interjecting ourselves into an argument we are not a part of, lacks wisdom. It complicates things. It rarely turns out well for the quarreling parties or us.

It is no wonder that the image of grabbing a stray dog by the ears warns us so well. No one wants to get their hands that close to a vicious, unknown dog's mouth. It just shouts, "Danger, Danger, Danger!"

What a helpful reminder and a vivid image! Be careful when you take up the cause for someone else.

Stepping into an argument that is not yours can be fraught with danger and may make things worse, not better!

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