“That Dog Don’t Hunt Here….”
We are dog people. (I am also very much a cat person)
As long as I can remember, my dad has had a working dog. And when I say working, I mean a dog that obeyed, retrieved household items if needed, and most of all, hunted.
In the 1980s, we hunted everything. Rabbit, quail, duck, dove, and the occasional squirrel. Without a good retriever, it was nearly impossible to enjoy the sport. So, we have had a long line of quality working dogs who hunted.
Due to my work and travel, my household never had pets that didn’t live in bowls or cages. So, returning to Georgia we decided to get a dog in early 2012. A few weeks later we were gifted a second dog that showed up on our porch. So, we went 16 years without a dog and suddenly had two. Not six months later both of these dogs discovered a sega palm tree, got pricked, and died at the vet a week later. In my grief, I drove three hours and got myself a working dog. We named her Alish.
She was smart, loving, and a doll to be around. She learned to fetch and retrieve and for the first time in twenty years, I was thinking about hunting. The morning of the dove shoot Alish and I entered the field and came to our spot. Things looked good until the shooting started. This brilliant working dog who could run and retrieve was gunshy. I am not talking about skittishness. She was horrified. She shook and buried her head in my lap for five straight minutes. Her hunting days were over. That dog didn’t hunt here, or anywhere.
What is meant by that is that my plan to have a hunting dog didn’t work out. She not only didn’t hunt at the farm, but she would also no longer come around me when I had a firearm. I did all the right work, even shooting around here early on, but the twenty-man field was too much and it triggered her permanently against the noise of a firearm.
“That dog don’t hunt here.”
My dad has used that phrase since I was a boy in a particular context. Never has it been about a dog that didn’t hunt. It has several common relative meanings:
First, it means that what is being said or an action being taken is offensive and intrusive. Further, the attitude carrying the conversation or action goes against the expectation of the household. More specifically, his rules and values. Second, it means that he does not permit what is about to take place like a ferrule hunting dog would not be permitted to run amock on the farm disturbing the game we intended to harvest. Finally, it’s a simple phrase that lets folks know that whatever is happening or being discussed is over. Full stop. Period. Finished. I never used that phrase with my kids or family. I have let that one be exclusively my father’s.
The dog-not-hunting rebuke came often in my teen years as with my brothers after me. We would be telling dad our plans and boasting about what we were “going to do” or “how” we were going to do something. Much like the Apostle James would tell his readers that we ought not to say what we are going to do, but rather if “God wills” we may do it.
While I haven’t used the phrase, it is always in my mind. In Oakland, I witnessed a small child sitting with his parents at a restaurant. The child was not happy with something on their plate and begin to yell and scream. His father asked him to quiet down to which the child screamed, “Shut up before I slap you!” My mind immediately went, “Oh no, that dog don’t hunt around here.” His mother chimed up and carefully placed her hands on the child to calm him down. Pulled back and slapped his mom stating, “I said I would slap you both!” The father calmly said, “Please son, let’s not hit mommy.” “You shut up before I slap you too!”, screamed the child. “I’m sorry”, replied the father. The whole scene was out of the “don’t hunt” playbook. They quickly boxed their food and left. The child was around seven.
There has been only one occasion where one of my children ever really talked back or tested us as parents. But I typically only had to say, “Did I ask you a question?” “Then when it’s your turn to talk, I’ll let you know.” This mainly came in the event of interrupting others or jumping to conclusions. I don’t think I would manage my so-called wrath very well if one of my children had ever slapped me.
Most of us reading this probably felt the same way. I am certain there were some deeper issues at play with that young boy so I did not judge them, but I did play it out in my mind how I would handle it. None of us would find it normal for a parent to be abused by a child that age and just take it. No matter the reason, that behavior is unacceptable. Period.
In life, we are not responsible for how other people think and behave. We cannot control them, and that’s good. Yet, we are able to insist on a set of ethics and actions no matter the circumstances. It is a crime to scream fire in a public place when there is no fire or to yell “bomb!” on an airplane (I have a story about this) for no reason. It is a crime against sound judgment and sanity to permit people to act or speak in a manner without consequence. I believe continually putting ourselves in the way of such people is not only burdensome but is imprudent and ungodly.
Every society has basic expectations relating to behavior, which includes the act of communicating in voice or printed text. For someone to try and justify going against these expectations because of other circumstances is an entitled arrogance or an emotional or cognitive malfunction. For believers, thankfully, we have the complete New Testament letters that give us clear instructions on all things related to life and godliness. Not only that, but we have the love of God in the story of grace, by the Spirit, which enables us to hear and follow the simplicity of basic teachings. No true believer justifies their behavior when it violates this teaching. Furthermore, a child of God will know His voice and will see the truth. To continue acting against the teaching of Christ is either pure stubbornness or evidence that one has not been given spiritual ears. Both are grounds for consequences.
When people refuse to comply with prudent wisdom relating to problems and life, they are twisted, in agony, suspicious, callous, nosey, and often intense with pretense. These people are to be avoided. Not just for the sake of who they offend, but for their sake as well, that they learn not to blaspheme the good teaching of society, God, and family.
What boundaries have you set in life concerning the types of behaviors you permit? Are you reasonable in these requests? Have you ever had a situation where someone justified their bad actions in the name of doing good? In our home, we have set firm boundaries on matters relating to gossip, bigotry, crude humor, and substance abuse. Likewise in our spiritual family.
In the end, we have the gift of joy because of Him who endured in our place. That FREEDOM is ours to enjoy now. Let it ring!