A Delinquent Dog

There are some people who regard their dogs as spiritual directors. Even though I am English, I think that is going rather far — not because I do not honour Bro Duncan but because, as readers of this blog are aware, I am a little sceptical about spiritual directors in general, believing that the needful gift is rare. Bro Duncan does very well as a watchdog for the community and fulfils the role of porter admirably, greeting everyone and being especially attentive to the very old and very young, with whom he has a special affinity. (Not surprising given that his own joints are beginning to creak, and standing just 15 inches high at the shoulder, his world view has always been that of a little child). He is a very companionable dog, very gentlemanly and discreet. At least, I thought he was.

Recently he spent a day in kennels getting a haircut and returned home a different dog. He looked better, he smelled better, but his behaviour! For the first time in his life he decided that the visitors’ sofa was exactly what he needed for chilling out (he is not allowed on furniture); instead of pleading with kohl-rimmed eyes for a share of the visitors’ biscuits or dancing on his hind legs with supplicating front paws, he attempted to intercept the movement from plate to mouth; worst of all, he looked very smug about his antics.

It is clear we have a delinquent dog on our hands and are like the parents of teenagers, wondering what will happen next and asking ourselves where have we gone wrong. For once, the Rule of St Benedict is scarcely a help. However, I know we must be patient with our errant brother because there is one lesson that, spiritual director or no, he has always taught us: everyone is his very best friend. I can’t help wondering whether, if we human beings made fewer distinctions and treated everyone as, potentially at least, our very best friend, the world would be a kinder and more pleasant place.

(Note: if you are old enough to enjoy a little silliness, Bro Duncan has his own Twitter account, @BroDuncanPBGV.)


12 thoughts on “A Delinquent Dog”

  1. Bro Duncan sounds the ideal companion. Friendly, undemanding and with a sense of humour.

    Perhaps his hair cut and makeover has given him a new lease of life and he is taking advantage of it. People say that Leopards can’t change their spots – but Dog’s can obviously change their behaviour, particularly if their is some gourmet advantage to them.

    Stomachs talk loudly to dogs, who are natural scavengers, I’d keep the bin lids firmly shut from now on.

    • It’s his breed: Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen, meaning he’s a short-legged, rough-coated hound from the Vendé region of France. His breeder, Gavin Robertson, gave Duncan to us on permanent loan after he retired him from showring duties. Gavin’s website at http://www.soletraderpbgvs.com still shows Duncan (Ch. Soletrader Dunk’n Disorderly).

      • Amazing what one learns on this website. Never knew there was a dog with such a long name. Mine are all ‘bitsas’ – bits of this and bits of that from Battersea.
        Duncan’s breed description doesn’t sound too much like the dog you describe – ‘A strong, active hound capable of a day’s hunting, with a good voice purposefully used.’

  2. Hah! – at least you can tell him to “get down” and have a good chance of success.. Here at Palais Chez Nous, the Cats (Major, Minor and Middle) run roughshod over rules, and turn selective deafness on and off as needed.. At least they sleep a fair bit of the day.. Saving graces, – loud purrs and an abundance of cats in laps, cuddling. (that and the fac that we have never seen any sign of mice..)

  3. It is wonderful that Bro Duncan has absorbed the spirit of the monastery so well and is one of God’s little reflections.

    Whilst, we need a constant reminder to ‘let go and let God’, we can’t entirely let go and let dog. But I do think, in his head, he’s doing what he always wanted to do, warm the sofa for the visitors. Maybe a little negotiation is in order – intelligent dogs understand this very well – an elevated resting-place of his own as an alternative to his basket. He’s a little nearer Heaven now, you see, and though his limbs can’t go with him, deep down, he thinks they should.

    I hope you won’t mind this link, but your post did bring the following vividly to mind: 🙂


  4. Hahaha! I love this post. Bro Duncan is a cheeky chappy and utterly adorable.

    I’m forever calling my dog a delinquent. In reality I think it is his character and that really his cheekiness is harmless and brings a smile to peoples faces.

    My little delinquent dog is my best friend who doesn’t judge me, who gives me comfort when I am sad and brings me mountains of joy and happiness. Actually, thinking about it, many of his qualities are gifts that his anagram also brings to us. I hasten to add that I am not really comparing my dog with God, more just acknowledging some of his very special, doggy qualities.

  5. It’s true what they say, one can babble theology to one’s heart’s content and no one will notice; mention one’s four-legged friend and he’ll have a fan club before the day is out! Bro Duncan is true to his breed type and has a lovely deep bark and a cheerful, independent nature. He is sweet-tempered, to a degree I’ve never met in any other dog. I believe he is the best monk in the community — I’m prejudiced, of course.

  6. Sister, I think I share your reservations about Bro Duncan’s suitability to be a spiritual director. But perhaps the community might consider allowing him to contribute to a paws for thought?
    (Yes, it took me all day to come up with this) 🙂

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