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'Animal Matters' (September 2012):


“Learn lessons from every living being, everything that you find around you. Learn faithfulness and gratitude from the dog, patience and fortitude from the donkey, perseverance from the spider, far-sightedness from the ant, and monogamy from the owl.” (Sathya Sai Speaks Volume 11, Chapter 20, P.117)

Since the beginning of man’s friendship with dogs, there must have been simply millions of tales of doggy devotion. Anyone who has loved and cared for a dog will know how much love and adoration a dog can have for his human owner. They live for their human companions and many dogs will even die to protect those they love. The following stories, although only the tip of the iceberg, demonstrate the depth of this love.

In Edinburgh in Scotland, there is a statue of a dog called Greyfriars Bobby. The people of Edinburgh made a statue for Bobby after he died because he was so faithful to his master and lived on his master’s grave for fourteen years after his master’s death until he, too, died.

What happened was this: Bobby was a lonely, stray dog and because he had nothing to eat, he had to try and find food every day. Most of the time, people treated him cruelly. One day, an old shepherd befriended him and from that day on, he fed little Bobby. They became best friends and were always together. Finally his master died and Bobby was heartbroken. For the next fourteen years, he stayed by his master’s grave both day and night, in all weathers, whether it was boiling or freezing, only leaving once a day to beg for some food. Nothing and noone could make Bobby leave his master’s graveside. Even the gravediggers who kicked him and threw stones at him when they dug the grave could not make him stay away. Sometimes children came to play with him but after playing for a little while, he always went back to his master’s last resting place. The local people were so moved by his love, loyalty and devotion that they built a small shelter for him next to the grave.

Also, because he touched the hearts of so many people, when he died in 1872, they built a statue for him in Edinburgh with a large drinking fountain for dogs! Beside this, there is now a bar called “Bobby’s Bar”. Today, you can still see Bobby’s collar and dinner bowl in Huntley’s Museum in Edinburgh.

How many human beings would be so very loyal? The following story adapted from 'Peaceful Kingdom: Random Acts of Kindness by Animals' by Stephanie Laland shows how a dog will literally risk its own life to protect the ones it loves.

On August 29th, 79 AD, an enormous volcano erupted in Pompeii. It happened so suddenly that noone had any warning. Most people died in the eruption and their bodies were not found until almost nineteen centuries later. At that time, archeologists discovered about 2000 skeletons. One body told a very moving story. It was the body of a dog which was stretched out protectively over the body of a small child. The faithful dog was trying to protect the child from harm even until its own last breath. The archeologists were even more moved and amazed when they read the inscription on the dog’s collar. The inscription on the collar stated how the dog had saved the child’s father, Severinus, three times, once from drowning, once from thieves and once from a wolf. Finally, its dying gift was to try and save the child it loved.

“...For He makes us aware that the God we adore, the God we love, the God we live by, is in every other being as LOVE. Thus Love expands and encompasses all creation...” (Sathya Sai Baba)

I knew a little dog well once who, because of sad circumstances, had to be given away to another person. Luckily that person and the little dog fell in love with each other at first sight and the little dog had a happy home. In spite of being tiny, she soon became the ruler of the roost, and the roost included some very big dogs indeed… but they knew who was boss… tiny Dolly. Despite being very happy and loved with her new mistress, she still showed the most enormous loyalty to her previous owner. Whenever he came to visit her… when it was time to go, she would leap onto his shoulder as she always had done, as if to say, “Well, come on, let’s go… I’m coming back home with you…” but it could never be. That is not all. For several years, at the end of the afternoon, Dolly would go down to the bottom of the drive and wait and wait and wait... it was the time that her previous owner used to come back home from work. After long and patient waiting, when he did not appear, she would finally give up and go back inside with a loud, sad sigh. No matter how disappointed she must have felt, she kept up her patient vigil for a long time.

“If you develop love for all beings, in the faith that God resides in all, you may be anywhere else, but your prayers would reach Me and My Grace will reach you. While in My previous body, I told Nanasahab that I am in ants, insects and animals, besides all men. When a dog ate all offerings intended for Baba, it was declared to have reached Baba, for he had eaten it in that form. “Nana says he is giving me food, but when I go in the form of a dog, he drives Me off”.

“Follow what I say wherever you are in the world, if you do then I am near you always, I am there always where my Words are followed” (Sathya Sai Baba’s Shivrathri discourse, 1979)

Apart from these three touching stories above, there are many, many others, some known about and many more unknown. It is truly humbling to become aware of the great love and loyalty many dogs feel for their human companions, even when they are treated badly. Hundreds of these loyal and loving creatures worldwide are cruelly treated or simply dumped on the roads each day, by callous and cold-hearted owners, abandoned and left to fend for themselves, inspite of their loyalty and love. Imagine the hurt and distrust created in those souls’ memories for lifetimes to come. Luckily, there are some truly loving human beings who are willing and able to adopt ‘rescue’ dogs with physical and emotional scars and give them the healing love and care they need. While all dogs are not the same, just as people are not, the love that they receive or not from human beings… as well as the correct training… has a profound effect on them and an enormous bearing on their subsequent behaviour.

“Compassion towards all creatures is the greatest virtue, wilful injury to any creature is the worst vice. Have full faith in this; spread love and joy through compassion, and be full of joy and peace yourself”. (Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 12, chapter 51)

(Article written by Mercini Sherratt for Vedanta Empire's charity incentive)

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