On Tuesday, 4 January, our faithful guard dog "emeritus" went home to the eternal hunting ground. Tipton arrived at the monastery in 1993, shortly after a fire devastated our school. When he arrived, he was about 2 or 3 years old and we learned that he was badly abused as a young dog.
For nearly a decade, Tipton was a stellar watchdog whose fierce bark scared away many an unsuspecting visitor and kept the monastery garden free of squirrels and possums. Despite his bark, Tip was a gentle dog who showed neither aggression nor anger -- even in the face of the overly-playful puppy Nicholas, who arrived in 2002 to learn the art of being a monastery guard dog.
Many people agree that animals can teach us a few things about being human. Tipton taught us quite a few lessons during his time with us. Among them, perhaps the most poignant was his disposition. As a dog who suffered abuse, Tipton never manifested aggression. He was a fine hunter and had keen senses, but he was gentle and deliberate in action. Very late one Saturday night, when an inebriated local college student climbed the cloister wall into the monastery garden, Tipton's barking scared the boy so much that he climbed up to the third floor of the monastery porch in an attempt to escape from our faithful guardian. Tip knew his job was to alert the sisters to danger -- never more and never less. He was a faithful and noble creature whose last years of "retirement" were happy and comfortable, thanks to his faithful caretaker, Sr. Immaculata (pictured with him above.)
Would that we could learn from his example: having suffered violence and injustice, he did not perpetuate what he suffered; instead, it made him a gentle creature.