304) A Hound Dog’s Savior (part one)

YOU AIN’T NOTHIN’ BUT A HOUND DOG  performed by Elvis Presley at:


You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog
Cryin’ all the time.
You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog
Cryin’ all the time.
Well, you ain’t never caught a rabbit
And you ain’t no friend of mine.

Well they said you was high classed
Well, that was just a lie.
Yeah they said you was high classed
Well, that was just a lie.
Yeah, you ain’t never caught a rabbit/cut a record
And you ain’t no friend of mine. (3x)

     This song was written in 1952 by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, a couple of 19 year-olds just getting started (the same duo that a few years later wrote Yakety-yak, Don’t Talk Back.).  Dozens of artists have recorded it over the years, the most famous being by Elvis Presley in 1956.  That record stayed on top of the charts for 11 weeks, and helped launch Presley’s rise to fame.  It is #19 on the Rolling Stone magazine list of top the 500 hits of all time.  It is a fun song, with no deep meaning to the words, and it has very little to do with what I want to say next– except that I am going to be talking about a hound dog, and this is the best hound dog song I know.  First, a story…

     James Alfred Wight was a country veterinarian in Yorkshire, England from the 1940’s to the 1980’s.  He was a wise man who had keen insights into the personalities of the animals he treated, and, into the personalities of the humans who owned them.  He was also a great storyteller and wrote several best selling books about his experiences using the pen name James Herriot (All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Wise and Wonderful, etc.). In one of his books he tells the story of a certain Mrs. Donovan, the town busy-body.  She had her nose into everything, knew everything about everybody, and was always around whenever something happened.  She also was quite sure that she knew more about dogs than anyone; certainly more than some over-educated and under-experienced young veterinarian.  So she was, for James Herriot, a pain in the neck.  She knew even before he did when a dog was sick, and she was always there eager to sell her own home remedies, especially her special dog shampoo, which she said would cure practically anything.  And she never hesitated to say a bad word about Mr. Herriot, criticizing his every move.

     One day, a policeman called Mr. Herriot to assist him on a case of animal neglect.  The vet arrived at a rundown farm place that he had never seen before.  The house looked as if it were ready to fall in on itself, and out back was a little shed that was in even worse shape.  Inside the dark and smelly shack was a malnourished dog, little more than skin and bones, covered with a tangled mess of dirty and matted hair.  It was a Golden Retriever that the vet guessed to be about a year old.  He figured that the poor dog had been chained there, on a short leash, for its entire life.  A hollowed out spot in the dirt floor was where the poor dog had been lying, in the dark, day and night, without care or attention.  “How can anyone treat a dog like this?” Mr. Herriot asked the police officer.

     The officer said, “We were called out here this morning after the old lady in the house died.  She was an invalid and her son seems to be not quite right in the head.  He’d throw some food out to the dog when he thought of it, but he apparently didn’t think of it very often.  There doesn’t seem to be much hope for this dog anymore, and besides, who would want it?  I suppose, Mr. Herriot, you might as well put it out of it’s misery.”

     “Yes, I suppose so,” the young vet replied reluctantly.  Just then, out of the corner of his eye, Mr. Herriot saw Mrs. Donovan, standing out in the yard, straining to hear every word.  “How does she find out everything so fast?,” he wondered, annoyed more than a little bit at her constant presence and interference.  But then he had an idea.  Not letting on to Mrs. Donovan that he had seen her, he turned to the policeman and said, “Officer, I’ve heard about a lady in this very town who has a special shampoo that will work wonders on any dog.  Do you think we ought to let her have a look at it?  For all it has been through, the dog still has a strong heart, and it is young, so there is maybe a chance.”  The vet had no confidence at all in Mrs. Donovan’s special healing shampoo, but he had no doubt about her love for dogs.  Her whole life was given to caring for dogs, and she was still grieving the recent death of her own little dog.

     “Maybe there would be a chance,” said the officer, “but I don’t think anyone would even want to touch this filthy creature, let alone take it home and shampoo it.”

     “But I will! I want to!” said Mrs. Donovan, bursting into the shack, filled with pity for the poor creature.

     “Oh, Mrs. Donovan,” said the vet, “what a coincidence.  I was just speaking about you.  I was wondering if your special shampoo and potions could do anything for this poor dog.  Would you like to have a go at it?”

     “Of course I will,” she said, already gently untying the rope that had held the dog for so long, and out the door they went.

     The vet did not see the dog or Mrs. Donovan for several weeks.  He thought it especially strange when he did not even see her in the front of the crowd that had gathered at the scene of a minor car accident near her home.  He was very anxious to know how the poor dog turned out.  He had confidence in her care, but the dog was in tough shape, and he wondered if it survived.   (continued…)


Psalm 104:24…25b…27  —  How many are your works, Lord!  In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures… living things both large and small…  All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time.


All things bright and beautiful, 
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all…

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well. 

Cecil Frances Alexander  (1818-1895)


A PRAYER FOR THE ANIMALS  by Albert Schweitzer

Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends, the animals.
Especially for animals who are suffering; for any that are
lost or deserted or frightened or hungry;
for all that must be put to death.
We entreat for them all Thy mercy and pity,
and for those who deal with them, we ask a
a heart of compassion and gentle hands and kindly words.
Make us, ourselves, to be true friends to animals,
and so to share the blessings of the merciful.