Dog understands dog's job

Our retreat centre, Gak Su Temple, on Lantau Island, never keeps dogs because we want to have a quiet environment for our students to practice. When one of our neighbours reached old age and passed away, her dog would become an orphan. This dog would roam around looking for food. Even though we didn't want to keep a dog, we couldn't just ignore him so we helped him.

Since we were not the dog's owner, it wasn't easy to get close to him. This dog "Wong Wong" had prejudice too. He was very depressed because his owner passed away. If you give him food directly, he would not eat it. But if you leave the food and walk away, then after some time he would eat it. Slowly we gained his trust.

Lantau Island was hit by the worst black rain storm in 50 years. Our area, Luk Wu, had the worst soil erosion and land sliding, causing lots of damage to our area. Many of the temples were affected. One of the temples had many sutras inside. All the sutras were soaked in mud and water. In Chinese Buddhism culture we cannot burn or throw away sutras. We need to build a pagoda to keep it -- this is to show our gratitude and respect to Buddha's teaching.

The temple dog "Wong Wong" spent most of his time around that temple and around the pagoda. One night many strange dogs came to this pagoda trying to mark their territory. Wong Wong used all his strength to protect the pagoda. He chased them all away, but later around midnight these strange dogs came back with even more dogs. They attacked Wong Wong and nearly bit him to death. Luckily one of our nuns heard the noise and came out to save Wong Wong. We took him to the hospital the next morning. Wong Wong had 14 serious bites, and he needed to stay in the hospital for almost two months.

After recovery we had to send him away to stay with one of our students. Wong Wong had to learn to fit into another environment again. This family already had two other dogs. In dogs’ society, there is also a hierarchy. So being new to the family was not easy for Wong Wong. Dogs also have their habit of showing their teeth when they are not happy. This time Wong Wong was as depressed as before. Our student asked one of her dogs, “Goldie”,  to help this newcomer. Slowly these two dogs became good friends. Wong Wong had a lovely face; smiles and happiness came back to him. We luckily found him his retirement community. 

Even though he was not a dog doctor like Goldie was, Wong Wong’s presence brought joy to everyone around him. Before he died, our student took him to visit the temple one more time with all her dogs. Wong Wong was so happy to take Goldie around the temple area. Even he got a dog body, he went through many ups and downs with lots of emotions. But given a situation, he could also use his situation to change his life and transform his emotions. At the same time, he did his job and used his dog body to help human beings. 

This is a good story to share for the Year of the Dog. Dogs understand dogs’ job. Their job is to be loyal to their owner. They understand that their job is to help the household keep their place safe; they will protect it against intruders with their lives. As we are humans, do we understand our job as humans?

Buddha appeared in this world and showed us what is human beings’ original job, which is to attain our true nature. Only human beings can attain our true nature; other beings cannot. Therefore, it is most important that, apart from performing our duty to our family and society at large, we recognise our True Nature and attain Buddha Mind, which is Great Love and Compassion, so that we are able to function correctly and help others.

Wishing everyone a very happy Year of the Dog! May everyone attain our True Nature and a Clear Mind, be filled with Great Compassion and Wisdom, so that we could help each other and make a happy community for this world. Thank you very much! 


Poem for the Year of the Dog

The barking sound of a dog wakens many million families.

Under the sky, above the earth, may we all help each other.