“In the material world a dog is sometimes elevated and is sometimes on the street, but in the spiritual world, Krishna’s dog is perpetually, eternally happy. Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has therefore sung: vaishnava thakura tomara kukura baliya janaha more. In this way Bhaktivinoda Thakura offers to become a Vaishnava’s dog. A dog always keeps himself at his master’s door and does not allow any person unfavorable to the master to enter. Similarly, one should engage in the service of a Vaishnava and try to please him in every respect.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.29.30-31 Purport)
Friend1: Having dog problems again.
Friend2: You really love dogs on the inside, don’t you?
Friend1: I’ve never said I hated them.
Friend2: Come on, just admit it.
Friend1: I’m more interested in how they interact with others. More specifically, how the owners treat them.
Friend2: So what happened this time?
Friend1: I was staying with a friend for the weekend, and their stupid dog kept barking every morning.
Friend2: See, I knew you hated them!
Friend1: I’m talking about for an hour straight. It just kept barking. I think the gardener was coming over in the morning. The same gardener who comes every morning.
Friend2: The dog obviously knew who the person was, then. It’s not like they were barking because a stranger had come to the home.
Friend1: Exactly! This dog is more or less out of control. They keep it tied up the entire day. If they let it free for a second, it would run off.
Friend2: Yeah, some people just don’t take the time to train their dogs.
Friend1: I noticed something interesting.
Friend2: What’s that?
Friend1: It’s not with only this dog, either. What happens is that the dog goes wild and crazy, does all this bad stuff, and then the owner doesn’t mind at all.
Friend2: You’re thinking the owner should punish.
Friend1: At the very least say something harsh. Nope. They think it’s cute. They can’t look negatively on it.
Friend2: It’s a loyalty thing.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: The dog may have every bad quality there is, but at the very least it is loyal. In your situation it was barking at someone coming to the house. It kept barking, not letting up. That’s kind of nice if you think about it.
Friend1: I can’t relate; that’s why I’m bringing it up with you. I can’t imagine being that forgiving.
Friend2: Well, that’s because you’re a horrible person [smile].
Friend1: It got me to thinking. Isn’t there a line in a Bhaktivinoda Thakura song about becoming Krishna’s dog?
Friend2: It’s to become the dog of a Vaishnava. Vaishnava is a devotee of Vishnu or Krishna, so it’s basically the same thing.
Friend1: I don’t want to make an offensive joke here, but you know I can’t help thinking about uncontrolled barking and how Krishna would handle it.
Friend2: You shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions like that. Go with it. How do you think Krishna would react?
Friend1: I don’t know.
Friend2: Oh, sure you do. You know that one of Krishna’s names is Gopala, right?
Friend2: What does that name mean?
Friend1: One who protects the cows.
Friend2: Exactly. Which means He keeps cows as pets.
Friend1: Oh, right. But how bad can cows really be? They don’t bark all the time.
Friend2: You’re forgetting that Krishna tended to many cows. They would run off every now and then. Imagine trying to round up just two of your kids from a playground. You know how hard that is. There were so many cows in Vrindavana, and they would go in different directions.
Friend1: How would Krishna manage?
Friend2: He would start playing His flute. Then everybody would stop. They would pay attention and come back to Him.
Friend1: That’s pretty cool.
Friend2: Anyway, if you’re the dog of Krishna or a Vaishnava, you’re showing loyalty. Just as with the dog example you gave, the owner will forgive every offense. They won’t hold your bad qualities against you.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: The dog is also a servant. The quickest way to make advancement in spiritual life is to serve someone who is faithfully engaged in service to the Supreme Lord. It’s better to serve the Vaishnava than to serve Krishna, since the Vaishnava is already so dear to the Lord.
Friend1: Makes sense. Are there people who want to be the master instead?
Friend2: Umm, yeah, of course. That’s the whole reason for the creation of the material world. You have a universe full of living entities looking to be masters.
Friend1: Why do some of them become dogs?
Friend2: There’s a chain, a pecking order if you will. The dog is a master over other living entities. Just because they serve the human being doesn’t mean they aren’t being served by others.
Friend1: That’s pretty nice of Krishna, I must say.
Friend2: He not only forgives offenses made in service, but He never forgets even a little service rendered. We forget so easily. If a friend messes up once, we don’t talk to them ever again. It’s not the case with the Supreme Lord. The Vaishnavas who always serve Him are even more dear to Him. The spiritual master is like the best guard for the Supreme Lord, always looking out for His interests. Service to the guru and those who serve the guru thus becomes the most rewarding work in life.
Like a dog the guru to live,
Loyalty in service to God to give.
Owner of dog seeing behavior bad,
Knowing love, never can get mad.
Understanding the loyalty of the pet,
So in compassion standing always set.
With Shri Krishna attitude the same,
So pleased with those chanting His name.