A MOMENT TO REFLECT

24 July 2020

A Moment to Reflect -70

TO SEE A MAN ABOUT A DOG

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” 
― Groucho Marx,The Essential Groucho: Writing For By And About Groucho.

“But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37 New King James Version (NKJV)

According to Wikipedia, to “see a man about a dog” (or horse) is a “British English idiom, usually used as a way to apologise for one’s imminent departure or absence, generally to euphemistically conceal one’s true purpose, such as going to use the toilet or going to buy a drink.” 

Since my father was a strict teetotaller I suppose now that he meant the former. (We did have an outside toilet after all.)

I was almost seven years old at the time. I saw my Dad about to leave the house.

“Where are you going, Dad?” I asked

“Ah’m away to see a man about a dog!”

I had been longing to get a dog for ages and when I heard Dad say those words, I dashed into the kitchen to find my Mum.

“Dad’s going to see a man about a dog for my birthday!!”

My mother tried to explain to me that it was just a ‘saying’ but I was at the age where I took everything literally. 

“But he said it! He said he was going to see a man about a dog! Dad’s going to get me a dog!”

I remained so convinced, and so excited about the prospect of becoming ‘one boy and his dog,’ that I suppose my parents must have decided they wouldn’t be able to handle my disappointment and started to make enquiries about where to get a suitable dog.

Of course, only one kind of dog could possibly be suitable. An American TV series about a dog had been born the same year as I was and had become one of my favourites.  “Lassie!”

A full-grown rough collie, however, would probably not be suitable for a cramped tenement with very limited space outside for exercising. The best compromise would have to be a Shetland Collie (but not a miniature.) And the only place where one was available was in Johnstone in Renfrewshire. I can’t describe my excitement as I went with my Dad on the bus to see some newly born Sheltie pups. It had to be a female, like Lassie, and so I made my choice, then had to wait several weeks before my Dad could go back to the breeder to collect the dog.

Now, I am guessing at the moment that some of you have already suspected that the dog in the picture may not be a Shetland Collie. And you would be right. This dog belongs to my elder sister. His name (yes, it is a male) is Bob! He likes to pose for photographs, but he has been chosen specially for this because he has only two teeth. The explanation as to why that may be relevant will have to wait until tomorrow.

In the meantime…

An old friend of mine used to say, “Communication happens when meanings meet.” In other words, it is only when what I say to you is what you actually hear, and when what I meant is what you understood, that real communication has actually happened … always a huge challenge for a preacher!

Say what you mean …and mean what you say. Or “Let your ‘yes’ be yes,” as Jesus put it. 

Good advice for preachers …and maybe also for politicians? In fact, for everyone.