An Old Dog's New Tricks

Gentle Pooch Helped a Hasidic Girl Overcome Fear of Dogs

Lisa Anchin

By Judy Brown (Eishes Chayil)

Published February 04, 2013, issue of February 08, 2013.
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I eyed the dog, my heart still beating hard. I could see the old lady smile hesitantly.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to scare you. Sammy is a gentle dog. He won’t hurt you.” And she petted the creature, stroking its back, as it looked at me in demonic silence.

Well, I thought from my very safe distance, she’s safe because she’s a goy. Dogs don’t bite goyim.

The old lady smiled gently now, her eyes creasing under her floral shawl.

“Do you want to pet him?” she asked.

Pet him? Why would I ever want to do that?

I shook my head quickly, and half-smiled back. The old lady nodded. Then she and the dog walked slowly away,

The next day, I sat on the grass inside our gate, so when I saw the old lady coming there was no need to run away. I watched her walk slowly toward our corner house, the dark-haired dog walking patiently beside her.

She was an old lady like any other, her beige trench coat pulled tightly around her thin frame. She wore that floral shawl on her head and old-lady shoes on her feet. Why, if not for the dog on the long leather leash, one could barely tell she was a gentile.

She stopped when she saw me.

“Sit, Sammy,” she said, and the dog did.

I looked at Sammy warily, at the dark fur and the black around his pupils. He stared back at me, patiently.

“What is your name?” the old lady asked.

I didn’t answer.


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