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Archive for June 12th, 2011

Signs of Our Decline

“When she costs $230,000, as Julia did, the preferred title is “executive protection dog.” This 3-year-old German shepherd, who commutes by private jet between a Minnesota estate and a home in Arizona, belongs to a canine caste that combines exalted pedigree, child-friendly cuddliness and arm-lacerating ferocity.”

The rest of the story: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/12/us/12dogs.html?_r=2&hp

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One day while walking along the Jordan, Gerasimos came upon a lion roaring in agony because of a large splinter imbedded in one paw. Overcome with compassion for the suffering beast, Gerasimos removed the splinter, drained and cleaned the wound, then bound it up, expecting the lion would return to its cave. Instead the creature meekly followed him back to the monastery and became the abbot’s devoted pet. The whole community was amazed at the lion’s apparent conversion to a peaceful life – he lived now on bread and vegetables – and its devotion to the abbot.

It was given a special task: guarding the community’s donkey, which was pastured along the Jordan. But one day it happened, while the lion napped, that the donkey strayed and was stolen by a passing trader. After searching without success, the lion returned to the monastery, its head hanging low. The brothers concluded the lion had been overcome by an appetite for meat. As punishment, it was given the donkey’s job: to carry water each day from the river to the monastery in a saddlepack with four earthen jars.

Months later, it happened that the trader was coming along the Jordan with the stolen donkey and three camels. The lion recognized the donkey and roared so loudly that the trader ran away. Taking its rope in his jaws, the lion led the donkey back to the monastery with the camels following behind. The monks realized, to their shame, that they had misjudged the lion. The same day Gerasimos gave the lion a name: Jordanes.

For five more years, until the abbot’s death, Jordanes was part of the monastic community. When the elder fell asleep in the Lord and was buried, Jordanes lay down on the grave, roaring its grief and beating its head against the ground. Finally Jordanes rolled over and died on the last resting place of Gerasimos.

As told by Jim Forest

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