Dutch in the Lead
As they say, the characters in this story are fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. The exception to this is the hero Dutch, our beloved greyhound. The tale is speculation, based on my understanding of Scripture, but may bring some comfort to those dealing with the death of their precious pets. Thanks God, for Dutch.

 

 

DUTCH IN THE LEAD

 

By John P. Clark
Copyright September, 2000

 

With appreciation
To




C. S. Lewis and his musings in “The Four Loves,” and the “Problem of Pain,”

and my loving wife, Dorsey

 

 

For
My Children and Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

Dutch was born at a good time in a bad place. I say it was a good time because of the way his life turned out. But it was a bad place because it was a kennel for racing dogs.  Greyhounds of course!  Now Dutch wasn’t gray at all, he was tan from the tip of his long nose to the end of his long tail. You see, Greyhounds lived with royalty in ancient Egypt, and they were very popular in the Greek and Roman empires long ago. The Latin or Roman word for Greek is “Graius.” so that is probably why they are called “Greyhounds” even though they come in many different colors.
For such a royal dog it was a shame to be born in a racing kennel.  Not that Greyhounds don’t like to run. They love to chase little furry animals and they will even go after mechanical rabbits on a racetrack as fast as they can.  They are what we call “sight-hounds.” Dutch had a good trainer who taught him to be very polite and nice. But the trainer knew that if Dutch did not learn to run fast enough, the owners would not keep him. And then, because there were a lot of dogs that weren’t fast enough, the owners would have them destroyed. Many owners shot their unwanted dogs. Maybe that’s why Dutch always felt a sense of panic when he heard loud noises like gunshots. In any case, it was a hard life going hungry constantly so that he would be skinny and run fast. Dutch tried, but his heart wasn’t in it. Although he was very big and muscular and powerful, he just wasn’t fast enough. When he was two years old the awful, fatal, decision was made. Dutch was no longer wanted.


Would he be destroyed?  Thank God there was an organization, one of many, which rescued Greyhounds, the National Greyhound Adoption Program. Instead of being terminated, Dutch was shipped in a big truck to Philadelphia. This is where our first story really begins. Angela lived in North Philadelphia and she had begged her parents for a dog. Angela was eight years old. She wanted a real dog, big and  intimidating, yet gentle. She did not want a little “yappy” dog. And so the family filled out all the long application and applied for a greyhound adoption. The process lasted a couple of months, but finally Angela met the dog the NGAP had selected for her. Guess what? It was Dutch! When Angela went to get Dutch there were about 30 dogs in the holding pen at NGAP. But the lady in charge pointed out Dutch and said, “This is your dog.  He is a wonderful dog and I know because I took him home for a few days and I love him.”


And so Dutch found a home with a wonderful mistress who loved him with all her heart.  He was so handsome that everywhere they went people said, “What a beautiful dog!” He was so large, and colored such a perfect tan, that they sometimes thought he was a Great Dane, but Angela explained he was a Greyhound.
Angela could never go anywhere without people noticing Dutch. It was good she was happy to have people admire him, and she was never jealous or upset by the attention he received. She gloried in his beauty and grace. Dutch never disappointed Angela with bad manners like jumping or growling because as long as she was there he was wonderfully sweet, and if she stopped to talk to anyone for more than a minute or two, he would just lay down and wait. Once in a while he would yawn because he was bored, but more often he would yawn when people complimented him and admired him.  It was Dutch’s way of blushing.


Of course Dutch wasn’t perfect. Nobody is!  His canine teeth protruded just a bit so that when he closed his mouth you could still see those beautiful long teeth over his bottom lip. To some, this was an imperfection, but Dutch was very proud of those teeth. Though he was very kind and gentle, they made him look quite imposing.
Angela and Dutch became constant companions. Angela always took Dutch on nice long walks to give him exercise. You see, even though Dutch was a race dog, once he found Angela he was content to sleep and eat, and he didn’t want to run any more. Once in a while he would see a little furry animal and then he would want to run right away. But most of the time he was a couch potato. When Angela walked him he never pulled and jerked on his leash, and that was a good thing, because he would have run away with Angela!
Dutch always slept in Angela’s bedroom, and he liked the bed a lot. Even though they had wall-to-wall carpet in their house, and tried to make a bed of pillows on the floor, Dutch would love to make a nest on the bed scratching up the covers and pillows and laying on them. When Angela went to bed, she would have to share the space with Dutch, but she didn’t mind at all, except when he stretched out his long legs and took up all the space. It was always a blessing when Dutch slept on his back. Then he would stick his long legs straight up in the air. It was comical to those who knew him, but one time one of Angela’s friends came to visit on a warm day. She spied Dutch in the bedroom on the floor at the end of the bed with his long legs stuck high in the air, and she was certain he had fallen off the bed and hurt himself. Dutch was just totally relaxed!


Mealtime was always entertaining. Dutch never tried to take anything that wasn’t his. He was very polite, and even though his nose was higher than the table he was careful not to be pushy.  However, when it was the family’s time to eat, Dutch always counted plates. Everybody left the last couple of bites for Dutch. If anybody didn’t leave something Dutch would be uneasy and prance around. But when he had been offered the last bite of all the plates, then he would go off by himself and lay down. The same thing happened with bedtime snacks, but these were usually sweet things. When there were sweet treats Dutch’s eyes would get very big as if they were going to pop out of his head. His ears always went back as if he was in ecstasy and he always kept licking his chops hoping there was a drop he had missed. Of course, he never got very much because it would not have been good for his health, but what he got, he loved.


Dutch almost never barked, unless a stray cat wandered across their yard or a stranger came to the door. He was protective, but it was easy for Angela to quiet his fears with a stranger and then he would be friendly. All she had to do was introduce him properly, and then he was very laid back. Of course there was one cat who could never bother Dutch. Before he was adopted the NGAP tested him with house cats, and as long as Dutch knew the cat was part of the family he would never chase it. Angela’s family had a cat named Sheba. She was a Siamese type cat and so she was almost the exact same color of tan as Dutch. She had been rescued too. When she first came home she hid under a bed for a month and only sneaked out to use her litter box and eat. Sheba wasn’t very friendly, and she never liked Dutch because she said he had the longest nose she had ever seen. Of course Greyhounds do have very long noses. Whenever Dutch would come near Sheba she would sit and bat him in the nose with her paw over and over. Dutch never flinched or got mad he just acted with regal dignity and ignored her rudeness.


Dutch’s favorite food was chicken. He had a special hard dry food that agreed with his digestive system, but he always liked a little chicken mixed in which he received every night when he ate his main meal. Once in while Angela and her mother Audrey would take Dutch to the top of the hill behind their house. There they would let him off the leash, but Dutch knew that they had chicken hidden in their pockets. They would stand about one hundred yards apart and call him and hold out the chicken. He would run like the wind from Angela to her Mother, and then back, and each time he would get a little treat. Dutch loved to do this but after about 4 or 5 runs he was tired and then he just wanted to get the chicken without running. You see Greyhounds are sprinters and they don’t like to run marathons. After all, how far can you run at forty miles an hour?


Eventually Angela’s family fenced in their yard with a five-foot fence.  Dutch could run all he wanted. He probably could have jumped even a five-foot fence, but he never tried. However, his favorite game was to race at high speed around the yard and then head straight for the nearest person. Angela’s cousin, Roy, loved to watch Dutch run and he was rough and tumble kind of guy who loved to play. One day Dutch was racing toward Roy at about thirty miles an hour and Roy tried to dodge. Unfortunately he dodged in the same direction that Dutch veered and ended up flat on his back.

Dutch just danced around him joyously as much as to say, “Get up, and let’s do it again. That was great fun!”
Dutch loved that fenced yard! Once the fence went up he considered it his domain. He was the sovereign of all he surveyed. Dutch always checked out the perimeter of the yard along the fence for new scents and possible intruders. Then he would squat down on his haunches with his front paws stretched out and survey his territory. His head would turn from side to side and he would survey the neighboring yards, look at the birds in the sky, observe the insects fluttering and crawling, and then when he was certain that everything was “right with the world,” he would stand up, stretch and amble to the back door.


Sometimes Angela and her family would go on trips. Whenever they took Dutch he would be very happy. He loved to ride in the van. In fact every time they went out he was at the door begging to go along. Even though some of their trips were over a thousand miles, Dutch never fussed or complained, but he slept through most of the trip. And he almost always slept between the bucket seats in the van close to his mistress, and he would sometimes lay his head on her seat or on her lap just to be close. Back home, whenever Dutch saw anybody going out the door, he would become very excited and you had to watch him carefully because he was so big and just a slight bump on furniture would upset everything. To tell the truth, once Angela took him over to the yard of a neighbor who lived in a manufactured home. Dutch went over to play in the yard with a Yellow Labrador Retriever who only came up to his shoulder. As they were playing Dutch crashed into the house and put a big dent in the siding. Angela felt bad but the owner was very understanding because Dutch was such a nice dog.


When Angela and her family went to visit relatives Dutch always went along. It was simply amazing how he got along with other Dogs. Little snippy dogs, medium jumpy dogs, big frisky dogs made no difference to Dutch. He was immune to all assaults on his dignity and he maintained his composure at all times. One time Angela and her family went to visit her grandmother in Florida. Her grandparents lived in a home with a pool, which was enclosed by a screened room. Dutch liked to go out in the screen room with the family but he could never understand why people would want to jump in that big pool of water. You see, Dutch was not much of a bath person. In fact he hated bathtubs because they were so slippery. Besides, nobody in the family was big enough or strong enough to pick Dutch up and set him in the bathtub. Eventually Angela and her family settled for bathing Dutch with shampoo and a hose.


Another time Angela and her family went to visit a cousin in Pennsylvania who had recently adopted a tiny little terrier. One day the terrier got off his leash and ran for the nearby road. It was a very busy road with lots of traffic and the little puppy was in great danger. In fact, everybody in the family was calling to him, and holding their breath at the same time, hoping that nothing bad would happen. Dutch wasn’t even outside the house. He looked out the window, saw the imminent danger and gave one horrendous bark. The little doggie stopped dead in his tracks, short of the road, turned around, and ran back to his mistress. Everybody praised Dutch and thanked him for taking care of their new little dog.


Now everybody knows that greyhounds only live a few years by human standards. They say that every one-year of a human’s life is equal to seven years of a dog’s life. That means when a dog gets to be about 12 years old, he is eighty-four in human years. And big dogs generally don’t live as long as tiny dogs. When Angela was seventeen she was graduated from high school and she went away to college. Leaving Dutch was almost as hard as leaving her parents, but she knew they would take good care of him. Dutch was eleven years old, or seventy-seven in human years. He was still active and energetic. But in the summer of each year when Angela came home from college to visit her family she could see that Dutch was getting older and weaker. Finally as Angela was preparing to go to her last year in college Dutch was 14 years old. One day when they were out walking he simply laid down and didn’t want to get up. Angela called her Father and together they managed to drag Dutch to the car and put him in the back seat. When they got to the Veterinarian’s clinic the news was not good. The Vet said that Dutch had lived out his days and was near death. Before anyone could do anymore, Dutch laid down his beautiful long head, sighed, and went to sleep. He never woke again.


After Angela cried for a long time she became resigned to Dutch’s death, but she always wondered if she would ever see Dutch again. This is where our second story begins. Angela lived many many years after Dutch died. In fact she married and she had five children and four dogs. Each of her children loved pets and two of them adopted greyhounds just like their Mom. In spite of all the activity in her life, Angela never forgot Dutch. The memory was too strong. Sometimes, as she grew older, she would think about her precious Dutch. He had been such a good friend when she was growing up and needed him. Where was he now? Was he anywhere?


One night Angela had a dream of heaven and she saw Dutch. . There he was, running across a wide meadow, straight at Angela. When he got to her he jumped and cavorted and welcomed her home. She wondered, “How could Dutch be there?” Angela was a Christian person. She believed that Jesus loved her and died for her sins, as all Christians believed. But did that include dogs? How could Dutch be in heaven?


The next day Angela began praying to the Lord seeking an explanation of her dream. She felt as though she should study the Bible. She had mixed emotions. On the one hand she knew that the people of the Bible did not hold dogs in high esteem. They called bad people “dogs.” On the other hand she remembered reading someplace in Isaiah that the lamb and the lion would lie down together in the new heavens and the new earth. Obviously there would be animals in God’s new creation.  So she turned to Genesis where it all began. By the time she had read two or three chapters she discovered that people were given control over all of God’s creation, including animals. Adam, the first man, had named the animals. This must mean that all of the animals, which God created, got their meaning from man because God made him Lord over the earth, just as man got his meaning from God because he was made in God’s image.


Nobody believes that every elephant or tiger or kangaroo or chimpanzee will be in God’s new creation any more than they would believe that each and every bacterium, or insect or tree or flower will be there. There will be a great variety of all the life that God has created, but not necessarily the same ones that were here on earth. But Dutch was different! Angela finally understood that the thing that made the difference was her special relationship to Dutch. Each pet we have is an extension of our own personality, which is precious to God. Our pets reflect us and extend our God given dominion over all creation. In each pet God sees part of us, because they mirror our image. Our pets are like a shadow of our own personality, which God loves and which is precious to Him. Lions are lions, dogs are dogs, cats are cats, kangaroos are kangaroos, just as birds are birds, ants are ants, and flowers are flowers, but MY cat, MY dog, MY pet is special to God because he loves me.


Angela finally understood that our beloved pets were special because they belonged to us and we belong to God. She was thankful and amazed at God’s love for her and the love that God put in her heart for other people and even for special creatures like Dutch.  Then she realized that Dutch was in the lead and he had finally come in first.