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‘Let us not grow weary of doing good’ 

Dogs are reviled in many cultures, but that did not stop British engineers rescuing one. Baptist chaplain Cole Maynard's latest blog from South Sudan



Puppy love: Tuesday 21 March 2017


Dogs are reviled in many cultures. They are mentioned forty times in the bible but very few references are positive, because they are regarded as scavengers and not pets. They are commonly viewed as unclean and the transmitters of disease. So to call someone a ‘dog’ would be viewed as a grave insult.           

Yet in Britain we are often called a ‘Nation of Dogs lovers’! Thus domestic pets of the canine variety bring joy to many people, both young and old, poor or rich, we just love our four legged friends.
However, the variety that frequent our camp in Malakal are not to be petted, apart from the fact that they patrol the site in large packs, they are understandably very protective or their young and are a ready source of disease, especially rabies. They often fight each other, and have even been known to feed upon each other in this actual dog eat dog world. Hence we are often kept awake at night by their howls and barking.
So soldiers moving between our vehicles at night - vehicles that also serve as canine night shelters - best go equipped with a few rocks to throw in the direction of any angry residents they disturb! The Malakal Hound is not a breed I would recommend, yet, for all this mutual hostility, when the bitches give birth to yet another litter these cute little miscreants always elicit ‘coos’ and ‘ahs’ from even the most ambivalent soldier.
And so it was last Tuesday that I got back from an early morning run to discover a puppy. This cute little russet brown pup had managed to fall into the 18-foot ditch that had been excavated the day before ready to receive a sewage tank. The area had been correctly marked off with mine tape – orange in colour to stand out against the light brown dirt and placed on four staves at around three foot high. This flawless plan had not factored in colour blind puppies of around 12 inches tall! These cute little critters would be wandering around at night with little expectation that the ground that was there yesterday would not be there today.
So our cesspit became a trap for one little fella who walked oblivious to the danger, under the tape and into the 18-foot hole. Alerted to the problem several soldiers arrived to consider the situation. Undoubtedly, many other nations in the camp would have simply lowered the tank into its hole as planned, but Brits are not that way inclined and besides, the poor little fella lay there so weak and desperate we could almost hear his whimpers for rescue. So an elaborate plan was hatched. However, we had to be careful as the mother was constantly watching both the hole and us, and her teeth threatened other holes that we didn't want to experience.
The cunning plan involved a method not unfamiliar with those who know their Bibles, and a poncho (which perhaps should now be known as a pooch’o) had four pieces of rope tied to its corners and was lowered into the pit by four soldiers. To entice the timid pup sausages were then thrown into the middle of the sheet and they waited, and waited… and waited. But fear defeated this first attempt as the pup preferred the known safety of the hole to the uncertainties of poncho elevation (perhaps therein lies a parable for so many who prefer their dark familiar holes to the unknowns of rescue and change?).
So a more senior engineer came up with another plan and tried to lasso the terrified creature. By some miracle – or as a consequence of watching too many cowboy films – he was able to secure a rope around a hind leg and gently pull the cowering little pup to the surface. But then a new hazard arrived in the form of the snarling mother who was convinced of some nefarious intent, so whilst one team member repeatedly kicked dust at the advancing parent, the staff sergeant feverously untied his lasso from the pup's hind-leg and released him back to his mother. No thanks were exchanged and non-expected, but at least now we could now install the cesspit.

Another life rescued in South Sudan, but not one expected, and no doubt to the incredulity of the other nations.
As the saying goes…
‘Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun!’
Or perhaps as the Apostle Paul put it:
‘Let us not grow weary of doing good.’    (Galatians 6:9)

ColeMaynard223Cole Maynard has been a Baptist army chaplain for 20 years, and is currently on deployment in South Sudan as part of UNMISS, the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan. He is blogging for The Baptist Times   

Read his other blogs:

A day in the life of an army chaplain... in South Sudan 
A Sunday in Juba
'Thank God for tarmac and concrete' A heavy downpour was another reminder of how much basic infrastructure South Sudan lacks

Pictures | Ministry of Defence 



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