Monday, September 1, 2014
Devout Colonial Dog
On this Labor Day, I bring you a story about an ancestor's dog, originally posted on my genealogy blog, Relatively Speaking.
During the late 18th century, my husband’s five times great-grandfather, Lovell Clark and his wife, Mary, resided in the Milford, Massachusetts area. They were steadfast members of the Congregational church and adorned their profession by exemplary lives. They were sober, upright, industrious, unostentatious people, and justly held in solid esteem. Mr. Clark was a very strict observer of the Sabbath, and a devoted attendant on public worship. Nothing but absolute necessity would prevent his regular attendance on the services of the sanctuary.
The Clark family had a most remarkable dog — scarcely less pious than the rest of the household, especially in attendance on public worship, and deportment during the services. He equalled his master in punctuality and regularity. As surely as Sunday came and the Congregational church bell rung, he gravely proceeded to church, and posted himself directly under the pulpit, which was then supported by small pillars. There he remained during the services, invariably rising on his feet, as the congregation did, for singing, prayer, and benediction, and the rest of the time quietly sitting on his haunches, or lying recumbent. As to the Universalist church bell, he took no notice of it whatever — having due aversion for the heresy to which it summoned the reprobate.
At length his master was tempted so far from the path of rectitude as to tire of the dog’s company in the house of God. So he shut him up in close quarters at home during the hours of divine service. But this was too severe a privation for that canine devotee, who frequently made his escape, and repaired to his position under the pulpit, from which nothing but dire restraint could withhold him.
But he was getting old, and his master hired an executioner to dispatch him outright. One Thursday the exploit was attempted in the barn where the dog lay asleep. A terrible blow, presumed to be effectual, was given him on the head, which wounded him badly, but failed even to stun him. He leaped in agony from the presence of his would-be destroyer, ran away from the premises, and was supposed to have died on his flight. Yet he survived ; and lo! the next Sunday appeared at ch. again, to the astonishment of the family.
Poor abused worshipper! His master now relented, and tried to flatter him home with him, but could induce him to come only a part of the way. Finally one of the boys got him home, nursed his aching head, and it was unanimously resolved that his life should be held sacred. After this he lived several year., and attended church every Sunday regularly without molestation. Somehow at last he was lost on a journey to Providence, R.I., and never more found. Surely such a dog, if animals have immortality, ought to have a place among the blessed.
The transmigrationists might plausibly claim him as a strong illustration of their doctrine. Anyhow, he was no heterodox dog.
Source: History of the town of Milford, Worcester county, Massachusetts, from its first settlement to 1881