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I’m an avid reader, mostly of non-fiction. I read many books about the Bible and Christian theology, but I also like…antique travel or exploration stories, history, and books about animals or encounters with nature. My fiction tends to be classics.

Something that has happened to me before is that I will be coincidentally reading 2 different books, that are seemingly unrelated, and the content ends up related to each other – or one helps me better understand the other. It happened recently.

p1070561I was reading A.C. Doyle’s book The Hound of the Baskervilles (ya know, Sherlock Holmes). A bloodhound dog is portrayed as a dangerous, feared dog which I found a little odd, because I’ve not thought of a hound dog that way.

Then I was reading The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant. The subtitle will summarize this book: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption. Anyways, this book had a short history of which dogs have had bad reputations over the past couple centuries. It changes, and different breeds get pulled into a self-fulfilling cycle of fear and hype.

And, yes, at the time when Doyle wrote in the late 1800’s, bloodhounds were the breed with the bad reputation. These dogs were used to track escaped prisoners and slaves, guard stores, and protect homes. In the course of their work, they often ended up in situations pitted against people, and a reputation was born.

Eventually this changed, and the next demonized breed was the German Shepherd, then the Doberman, and eventually pit bulls (Staffordshire terriers, American pit bull terriers). Did you know the terrier once had a reputation as a great family dog? In the late 1800’s, when Doyle wrote, terriers in Great Britain had the nickname of…nanny dogs, because they were so good with children. This would explain why Doyle did not choose the terrier as the scary dog of his story!

See how interesting history can be? History doesn’t have to be only about a nation or government…everything has a history.

By the way, The Lost Dogs was both a sad and hopeful book. The situation with the Vick dogs showed that rescued fighting dogs did not automatically have to be euthanized, as was the prevailing opinion until this case. Many of the dogs were able to be placed in homes with families. Some needed more rehab than others. A few ended up as permanent residents of the Best Friends sanctuary in Utah. A handful did have to be put down. But the point of the book is that many of these dogs were redeemable from their past as fight dogs.

And, well, it is hard for me not to end on a Christian note. Have you ever looked on a human being as unredeemable? Admit it. You probably have. Someone who has done something really horrible, or just seems too far gone. But no one is beyond God’s redemption. Or…let us also admit that we, like the reluctant prophet Jonah in the Old Testament, have not wanted certain people to have the opportunity to accept God’s great salvation. “They” (whoever that may be) don’t deserve it.

But no one deserves it.

Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, anyone who repents and believes can be delivered from their sin. A past can be forgiven, and they can walk in newness of life in Christ. Don’t give up on anyone. They are not beyond redemption.

“Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.”  Psalm 130:7

“In him [Jesus Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” Ephesians 1:7-8