beliefs of course profoundly affect our attitude towards dogs, how we live with
them, even whether we live with them. Most pet dogs today live in regions of
the world where a few religions, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism
Christian and Jewish biblical attitudes are dog neutral.?Christianity
developed from Judaism and the Jewish Old Testament is explicit that animals
are part of God’s creation and should be treated with compassion. “The
righteous person regards the life of his beast”, says Proverbs. In
Deuteronomy, Jews are instructed to feed their animals before themselves but
dogs themselves are never mentioned in a positive manner. The Old Testament
however gives clues about how dogs in the eastern Mediterranean behaved several
thousand years ago and how they were treated.???1 Samuel 16:43 “He said to
David, “Am I a dog that you come against me with sticks?” And David said, “No!
Worse than a dog!”??Dogs must have lived in close proximity to
people if they were beaten with sticks. They weren’t thought much of either.
1 Kings 16:4 Anyone who belongs to Jeroboam and dies in
the city, the dogs will eat, and anyone who dies in the field, the birds of the
sky will eat, for the LORD has said it!?Dogs were urban
Job 30:1 But now they mock me, men younger than I am,
whose fathers I would have refused to put with my sheep dogs.??Dogs were
useful. They either guided or much more likely guarded livestock.?
Psalm 59:6 They return at evening, snarling like dogs and
prowling around the city.??Dogs were feral and dangerous.
Proverbs 26:11 As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool
repeats his foolishness.??Dogs had just as disgusting habits in biblical
times as they have now.?
Proverbs 26:17 A passerby who meddles in a quarrel that
is not his is like one who grabs a dog by the ears.??Dogs didn’t
like being grabbed by their ears then either!?
Ecclesiastes 9:4 But there is hope for whoever is joined
with all the living, since a live dog is better than a dead lion.??As dangerous
or feral or disgusting as they are, dogs can still be useful.?
The Talmud is a collection of interpretations of the bible,
an integral part of the Jewish religion. The relative importance of dogs in
biblical times is exemplified by the fact there is but one mention and it’s
combined with an injunction on health and safety in the home!??Breed not a
savage dog, nor permit a loose stairway.
The New Testament is equally uninterested in dogs although
there is one mention of the dog’s fealty to humans.??Luke 16:21 He longed to
be filled with what fell from the rich man’s table, but instead the dogs would
come and lick his sores.?
These historical Judeo-Christian attitudes towards dogs
have, of course been modified. The Jewish tradition of ‘dominion’ over animals
is interpreted in liberal Jewish and Christian thought today as ‘stewardship’,
a responsibility to care for other animals, including dogs. Dogs have been
integral in Christian households for millennia while the companion dog in the
Jewish home has become commonplace only within the last few hundred years.
?There is help for “Jewish Dogs”??The belated participation
of dogs in Jewish households had lead to modern publishing and business
opportunities. First time Jewish dog owners can get advice from books (the wry
and witty, How to raise a Jewish Dog) and buy kosher food for their dogs.
Kosherpets.com offers food “Approved by top breeders not to mention The