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Unbeknownst to my readers, one of the things I do after a hard day of work that I find therapeutic is watching dog videos that depict animals that were abandoned or abused. Some of the dogs are unrecognizable due to their long-matted fur. Underneath all their entangled coats lie fleas, ticks, and open sores.
Sometimes, the animal is so sickly and malnourished beneath the overgrowth that it’s shocking to see their frail bodies shaking. The end result is worth watching. After the loving groomers, shampooers, and veterinarians combine their healing hands, I feel like I am right there. At times, the healers must sedate some of the dogs because they are so wounded and so aggressive, they try to bite the hands that want to bring healing. We humans can be just like these dogs.
After the weight of the dog’s heavy fur is shaved section by section, the ticks removed, the nails trimmed, then the dog is given a medicated bath and dried. Most of these dogs are afraid of water and fight the bathing process. (Ephesians 5:25-26) We too need our heavy burdens removed, a washing in His Word, and the pesty ticks that try and suck the life out of us ripped away. These things require tender hearts and, honestly, time. It takes hours to bring about the beginning stages of new life. Being born again is the first step, but these animals, like us, will need inner healing and TIME.
After the bath, treats are given, and gradually, the servants, who have been a part of the hours of care, are able to take their hand and pet the head of the dog, but even this takes skill, a calming voice, and an easy gentle demeanor. We could learn a lot from these dog lovers.
Recently, I watched another dog being groomed–a Hungarian sheepdog called a Komondor. This dog was well taken care of. Koms are muscular and can weigh up to 135 pounds. Add the long-corded coat, and the dogs look much like a mop running around. Komondorok (plural) were bred to protect livestock, and because they blend in so well with the sheep due to their coats, a predator usually does not stand a chance. These dogs were trained to make their own decisions for the benefit of the flock. And the more I studied this breed, the more I thought about the Messiah and David, the shepherd who killed the lion and the bear to protect the sheep. There is a cost to being in any form of leadership. Yeshua said,
I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. The hired worker is not the shepherd, and the sheep are not his own. He sees the wolf coming abandons the sheep and flees. Then, the wolf snatches and scatters the sheep. The man is only a hired hand and does not care about the sheep.
Kom’s eat, sleep, and stay right with the flock of sheep, but if the flock strays too far away, they become a target.
For the Komondor to learn obedience and become a faithful friend, they need much training. These dogs love to keep their eyes on their owners (we need our eyes on Messiah) and are loyal if they are trained early, but some of the dogs who were not cared for or trained properly attacked the ones they were supposed to be protecting–the sheep and their owner. These characteristics also reminded me of us humans. When I was diagnosed with my first autoimmune disorder, the doctor told me my body was attacking itself. The Holy Spirit whispered to me, “My Body is also attacking itself.”
Back to grooming: The Komondor is the most difficult dog to groom. Their coats weigh over 15 pounds and have over 2,000 cords. Their “dreadlocks,” which look like a mop, cannot be cut straight. Each cord has to be pulled apart and not brushed. The dreadlocks provide protection from extreme weather and predators sharp teeth.
Washing one of these giant animals, squeezing out the dreadlocks, drying, and then pulling the cords apart can take a full 8-hour day to do it properly.
Shepherds need care, too! They are often exhausted from all the burdens.
Ezekiel 34 has a stern word concerning the shepherds of Israel, but I wonder if it needs looking at again. Although it was written a long time ago and concerning Israel, we can learn from it:
Here is the word of the Lord (YHVH): You have not strengthened the weak, healed the sick, bound up the injured, brought back the strays, or searched for the lost. Instead, you have ruled them with violence and cruelty. They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and when they were scattered, they became food for all the wild beasts. (Ezekiel 34:4-6)
Wild beasts are alive and preying everywhere today. We need healing hands that are prepared to help bind up the injured, bring in the mangy strays, and search for the lost. Yeshua said, “Which man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until he finds it? When he has found it, he puts it on his shoulders, rejoicing.” (Luke 15:4-5).
John C. McGrew and Cindy S. Blakesley from Texas Agriculture and Mechanical University have an insightful article How Komondor Dogs Reduce Sheep Losses to Coyotes. The experiment used several Komondoroks (Plural) and a host of coyotes. Nine dogs were observed guarding lambs for 21 days,
Each enclosure had resident coyotes chosen for sheep-killing ability. Komondor guarded sheep by being near the flock and actively defending it when necessary. Guarding was most effective in the area where the dogs spent most of their time. (This was by the sheep gate). Aggressive dogs were generally more successful in protecting their sheep. When attacked, the sheep learned to run to or stand with the dogs and usually bedded with the dog. The coyotes learned to attack the flock when the dog was not present.
Shepherds and sheep are spoken of throughout the Bible. It was Moses who fled Egypt and helped Jethro’s daughters’ water their flocks. The Shepherds were acting as bullies, preventing Jethro’s daughters from being able to water their flocks. We need male protectors to help women today in leadership water the flocks.
Yeshua and Moses were protectors, just like the Kom, who kept their eyes on their owners and looked out for predators. After the golden calf incident, Moses was willing to lay down his life for the sheep.
So Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made gods of gold for themselves. Yet now, if You would only forgive their sin…. But if not, please blot me out of the book that You have written.”
A true shepherd after Adonai’s heart speaks like Moses or acts like David.
David replied, “Your servant has been tending his father’s sheep, and whenever a lion or a bear came and carried off a lamb from the flock, I went after it, struck it down, and delivered the lamb from its mouth. If it reared up against me, I would grab it by its fur, strike it down, and kill it.
I Samuel 17:34-35, BSB.
David took down the lion and the bear.
Back to the experiment at Texas A&M: The dogs protected the sheep by staying near them. These dogs barked when danger was near, and scent marked the territory, but these things did not repel the predators. Think wolves in sheep’s clothing. Although the dogs barked, stayed near the sheep, and even marked their territory with their scent, none of these things made the coyotes leave and stop trying to kill sheep.
In 79 of the 153 coyote-sheep interactions we observed, the sheep either stayed with or ran to the dog, and in 75 of the 79, the dogs stood between the sheep and the coyote or chased the coyote away. The dog ran to the sheep and repelled the coyote in 5 additional instances. Sheep were never attacked while with a dog. The dogs all formed an attachment to one area of the enclosure, usually the area around the gate.
Yeshua said, “I am the gate” (John 10:9). Shepherds must stay close to the Messiah in order to protect the flock.
“Truly, truly, I tell you, whoever does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. But the one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen for his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will flee from him because they do not recognize his voice.”
The sheep learned the voice of the Koms, and they learned the voice of the coyotes.
John C. McGrew and Cindy S. Blakesley noted an important factor concerning the behavior of the sheep:
In our study, the sheep appeared to learn to avoid the coyote by going to or staying with the dog. In over half of the coyote attacks, the flock stood with or ran to the dog. As the study progressed, the sheep established their bedding ground at the gate and spent an increasing amount of time there. The sheep also increased the dogs’ effectiveness by detecting the coyote. Komondorok have good olfactory and visual acuity, but they rarely detected the coyote before the sheep did.
Shepherds need to listen to their flocks.
For younger servants in training, I wanted to share one last story. It involves two of the nine Kom’s. The study showed that female Kom’s were greater watchdogs. If we are in ministry positions, we first must know our role and gifting. Remember, Yeshua said to leave the Tares, but Tares are not wolves.
Late in the evening of Day 18 of her trial, Babe actively defended her sheep from the coyote for over 2 hours. The coyote approached the flock at least ten times during this period, and Babe repelled it each time. Yet, the following day, the coyote managed to separate the sheep from Babe and drive them away from the gate. She made no attempt to follow or chase the coyote, perhaps because the sheep quickly left her preferred area.
Finally, aggressiveness increased over the course of the trial for some dogs. Cecily ran from the coyote on her first encounter (Day 8). On Day 10, she chased the coyote away from the flock, then turned and ran when it challenged her. Finally, on Day 15, she chased the coyote away several times without retreating. 
The dogs mentioned at the beginning of this blog who were found with layers of matted fur, fleas, and ticks, they may have become like this by running off from a good home. Babe did not attempt to deal with the coyotes after the sheep decided to leave her area. Cecily learned that when a coyote challenges you, do not run off with your tail between your legs. Sometimes, servants and protectors must be a bit authoritative to protect baby lambs. There are many things we can learn about ourselves by watching these animals and those who protect them. Yeshua said, “My sheep know my Voice and they will not follow another.” Can you think of a time when you followed someone else’s voice and followed them instead of Him? How can we be more in tune to hear His Voice?
This Thanksgiving, let us remember those who have lost loved ones, the soldiers and the hostages in Israel. We truly do have much to be thankful for.
Blessings, Tekoa Manning
A video of one of these lovely Koms being groomed: