Rev. Austin Miles, a chaplain in Northern California is a writer and historian. He is the author of Santa's Surprising Origins, a story that received worldwide circulation and resulted in him being cast in the 2004 Hallmark Christmas Movie titled, Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus. He played the mall Santa who magically received the gift of sign language.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Society • Jesus and Animals Part 6: The Old Dog Who Wanted To Run Away With The Circus

Genesis 1:25: “And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” Chapter 2 Vs. 7: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”  This means that God FIRST created the animals, THEN created man as an afterthought. Rev. Austin Miles

When the rumpled mangy old dog first showed up at the little outdoor cafe in Havana, the first impulse was to shoo it away. That was until we looked into it’s eyes, the most tender, loving, soulful eyes any of us had ever seen.

In spite of ourselves we began slipping food down to the old dog who was not demanding or in the way. He was gentle and seemed to…well…fit in.

Within a short walk from the cafe stood the Palacio de los Deportes, (Sports Palace) situated by the sea wall, where major events took place. The Circo Pan Americano had set up there for a three week engagement.

Circus performers went to that cafe each night after the show to relax and get a bite to eat, including this writer who was the original Kokomo The Clown.

The following nights, at that exact hour, the old dog wandered in to the outdoor cafe to be with us. And we were glad to see him.

Then, while the clowns were putting on makeup preparing for the next show, the old dog wandered into the dressing room and quietly settled down in a corner. We looked at each other in astonishment.

How did the old dog get in? There was security at every entrance. There was no way that someone would have allowed him to come in. But he did and made himself at home in the clown’s dressing room.

The clowns went out to do one of their numbers. When we returned the old dog was not there. Within moments, however, he quietly wandered back in and curled up in the corner. This went on for several performances as we all became curious where he went during that time.

During a production number with several clowns, one stayed behind to watch. When the clowns left the dressing room to the center ring, the old dog went moments later. The clown followed him and was amazed at what he discovered.

The old dog would walk to a spot under the bleachers where he could see the center ring, watch the clowns perform, and when they left the ring to return to their dressing room, the old dog would go back to the dressing room and again curl up in the corner.

We all began to realize that this old dog had no doubt been a performing dog with a circus when he was younger, and somehow wound up homeless in his old age.

That’s why he would show up when the circus was there and even follow the performers to the little cafe. It was still a mystery to all of us how he managed to get into the circus arena every day.

When the engagement ended and the circus was packing all its gear the old dog was watching with what appeared to be sadness in his eyes.

A circus caravan left the arena with the props. The elephants walked with them to the dock to board a ship that would take us back to the States. As we pulled out, something happened that pulled at our heartstrings unlike any thing we ever experienced.

At the very end of the caravan, the old dog was following, and….howling. He was sorry to see us go. He wanted to go with us.

Several performers were trying to figure how to bring the dog with them to the States even though getting an old dog like that through customs would have proved to be a problem and no tellling what would have happened to him had customs seized him. So we had no choice but to leave him in Havana. That was tough.

I’ve often wondered whatever happened to the old dog without a name who wanted to run away with the circus. And never has any animal touched my heart deeper. “Just an animal?” No. There is no such thing.

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Rev. Austin Miles interviews Henny (L) and Penny (R), the hens evicted from a backyard in Brentwood.

See Part 7-Jesus & Animals-The Chimps That Made A Monkey Out of Your Writer.

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