Humans bred little Chihuahuas for company.

Humans bred little Chihuahuas for company.

DeDe Boies pets her dog Bunny in a turkey pen at Root Down Farm in Pescadero, California. Bunny guards the turkeys from predators. (AP/Haven Daley)

DeDe Boies pets her dog Bunny in a turkey pen at Root Down Farm in Pescadero, California. Bunny guards the turkeys from predators. (AP/Haven Daley)

This mosaic is from Pompeii. It says “Beware of dog” in Latin. (Handout)

This mosaic is from Pompeii. It says “Beware of dog” in Latin. (Handout)

These marble greyhounds were carved in the first or second century A.D. (British Museum)

These marble greyhounds were carved in the first or second century A.D. (British Museum)

Norman Rockwell made many pictures of people with dogs. This one is called Pride of Parenthood. (Norman Rockwell)

Norman Rockwell made many pictures of people with dogs. This one is called Pride of Parenthood. (Norman Rockwell)

A Dog’s Life

Posted: September 1, 2021

Dogs: a little like wolves, a little like foxes, loved by people a lot. Now more than 400 dog breeds exist in the world. Why? Because people took this once-wild animal, brought it inside, and trained it. Then they bred dogs to do certain jobs.

Shepherds, corgis, collies, and shelties herded livestock. Doberman pinschers, Akitas, and mastiffs guarded people from wild animals or homes from intruders. Bloodhounds, retrievers, and foxhounds helped hunters catch game. People also bred tiny dogs like the Chihuahuas and Pekingese just for companionship. (You might notice those names begin with capital letters. Chihuahuas were named for a place in Mexico. Pekingese were named for a place in China. Dogs have been man’s best friend in countries all over the world for centuries.)

People and dogs make great partners. Dogs can smell way better than we can—so much better that it’s hard to put into words. Dogs are loyal. They can be trained. So people harness the dog’s God-given abilities. In return, dogs get food, shelter, and human friends for life.

Now people generally value dogs for their friendship, not for the work they do. And what people love, they make art about. Did you know people made dog art as far back as the days of pre-volcanic-eruption Pompeii? That ancient city was destroyed in A.D. 79. When people uncovered it centuries later, they found a familiar idea in an ancient mosaic: a picture of a canine labeled “CAVE CANEM.” That’s Latin for “Beware of dog.” Fine artists have also depicted dogs through the centuries in these famous works:

Marble statue of a pair of dogs, artist unknown, 1st century A.D.

Portrait of a Noblewoman by Lavinia Fontana, 1580

Still Life with Three Puppies by Paul Gauguin, 1888

Dogs Playing Poker series by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, 1903

Pride of Parenthood by Norman Rockwell, 1971

Many, many more artworks capturing dog life exist. What’s your favorite?

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them. — Romans 12:6