Did The Devil Make Him Do It?

Published 4:16 pm Thursday, June 28, 2012

This is a story about anger.

Lashing out.


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And…ultimately forgiveness.

It's hard to get over when someone has hurt you. Someone you have extended a level of trust to, only to see it betrayed.

And no one likes to be betrayed.

I didn't know I was about to get such a lesson when I opened the door on what would end up being a rather memorable Monday evening and peered into the dark den. But there he was. The tiny little monster we, in more happy times, call Patches acting as if all was well.

We had dashed in the door after work earlier that evening, dashed out and headed to Richmond to pick out a junior bridesmaid dress for my daughter in preparation for a July wedding, and left the little dog alone to his own devices.

You know what they say about idle paws doing the devil's work?

As I opened the door, I could see papers strewn all about the den, littering the floor.

I remember uttering something about somebody being in trouble, before grasping the full situation.

Patches, our brown and white Jack Russell mix, is still a puppy and on this day, we suspect, an angry acting-out puppy.

As I waited for the family to follow their way up the walkway to the door, I scanned the floor for clues and (though it's all a blur now and I'm trying to piece it together) I suspect it wasn't until I laid eyes on a black book cover lying on the floor that I knew what the little monster had done.

He had destroyed a Bible.

My Bible.

The Bible the wife had bought me 20-plus years ago when we were dating.

It would be funnier if it were any other book. But there it was strewn about the den-torn pages incredibly littering the laminate flooring, scattered up the step into the adjacent bedroom. The hardback cover was not only detached, but decimated. The spine ripped from the body of what was once a beautiful book.

It was wanton destruction.

Mayhem unleashed.

Anger, perhaps, expressed in its purist form.

And there he was to greet me rather nonchalantly when I opened the door. It could be he thought I wouldn't notice. Maybe he thought me to turn the other cheek. Possibly he reasoned that I would think he merely had a taste for the word.

There's always the “devil made me do it defense”?

Who knows what was going on inside the mind of a little dog that night or what excuse he would give if creatures could talk? All we have is enough evidence to convict him of the deed.

The family had gradually grown to trust Patches enough to let him have the run of two rooms during the workday rather than staying cooped up in the crate. But if you do the crime, then comes the time (accept your consequences). Patches, his own anger issues or not, was almost immediately sent to jail-otherwise known as the dreaded crate.

No longer was he free to roam about the garden. He's a fallen dog now and had to learn the lesson about sowing and reaping, though I'm not quite sure he understands the concept that A (I destroyed this book) + B (they didn't like it) = C (I'm back in jail).

I must admit I was mostly in shock the night of the incident. Upset, yes, but not in full-blown anger mode. It's like I saw the Bible but was having a hard time processing it-that something I treasured was gone for good.

Though I gathered the tattered pieces into a plastic bag, I was unable to toss it (it is the Holy Bible, after all) and, as of this writing, haven't quite stomached another look at the remnant. I suppose it's to Patches' benefit that I haven't chewed it over any further.

What's done is done.

The wife suggested that we seal it up in a bag and place it in the attic with a note explaining what happened to the Bible, effectively deferring judgment to some future owner of the house.

As I said at the beginning, this is a story about destruction, but also one of forgiveness. We still let the little monster out and play with him (he is adorable, after all) and, though betrayed in this instance, what else can you do but forgive?

We are supposed to forgive others, which I suppose also applies to dogs, too.

Forgetting, however, may require some divine assistance.