Roman Molossus Dog
He was strong and brave, fearless as he fought by the side of his master. The sounds of war did not terrify him, as it did other dogs. Rather he found the clashing of swords against armor and the war cries of men to be exciting. He had fought alongside his master for over five years and now patrolled the city of Jerusalem keeping rebels in their place. Tensions had been climbing over recent weeks with rumors of a new king coming soon to lead the rebels in an uprising over their Roman keepers. It was also a time of celebration in the culture of these rebels, leading up to a great feast called Passover. The soldiers were working double shifts keeping watch over their city.
The dog and his master had been commanded to the East gate near the Jewish Temple. The structure was a large double arched gate, constructed of stone brought to Israel by the Queen of Sheba in the times of Solomon. They were polished and shining golden in the morning light.
A large crowd had gathered and the excitement rippled among the rebels. As the dog was led past the crowds his nose constantly scanned for any sign of stress in a human that might indicate trouble. He could recognize the smell of anger and fear in a human that could be a deadly mix for any rebel if they dared to square off against him and his master.
The dog pulled hard on his short leather leash, eager for a fight. But all he smelled in this crowd was excitement and anticipation. His master was under orders to simply observe and report back to his commander. He was one of many soldiers scanning the crowds, some in uniform, others disguised as merchants and peasants, blending in with the rebels.
The entry of the gate was mobbed with people. Some climbed the neighboring walls or trees, others stood in carts or sat on shoulders to get a better look at what was approaching from the Mount of Olives. The hackles on the dog’s back raised and his muscles tensed as the crowd suddenly broke into a loud roar shouting “Hosanna! Hosanna!” The dog strained against his leash and began a low growl. His master laid a hand on his shoulder signaling for him to relax. The fight was not to be now.
The dog could not see the source of the commotion, but he could smell the scent of a man mixed with that of a colt, or young donkey. Behind that scent mixture was the scent of several men and a few women with odors of the desert; the smell of travelers.
As the travelers passed the cheering crowds, the crowds fell in step behind them, looking much like a parade led by the man on the colt. Those not in the line of revelers laid palm leaves, linens or sack cloths on the ground in front of the man riding the colt. The man smiled and nodded acknowledging the crowds, his white robes draping the grey colt.
The colt seemed unusually calm for all the attention drawing so close to the travelers, especially for being such a young animal. There were several men accompanying the rider, surrounding him and the colt like a fence. The man holding the colt’s lead spoke harsh words to the crowd attempting to keep them from mobbing the rider and colt.
The travelers and the man on the colt melted into the crowd as they passed the soldier and his dog and disappeared from view. The crowd pushed forward and away from the dog following the man riding the through the city towards the great temple. The dog strained against his leash, whining, wanting to follow the mob, but his master held him tight. Their orders were to remain at the gate. When the sun reached its peak in the clear blue sky the crowd was gone, leaving behind a few Roman soldiers and a handful of merchants who were now without buyers. The dog’s master spoke in a relaxed tone, even laughing with the other soldiers.
The dog lay down at his master’s feet with a heavy sigh in the dust as his heavy head rested on his front paws. The sight of that man riding the young colt would not leave the dog’s mind. He felt drawn to and curious about this person.
A strange sensation and energy had flowed through the crowd that morning, something the dog could not identify. Never had a traveler invoked this level of attention and adoration from the rebels. There were waves of hope, eagerness, excitement and love flowing in the crowd. The dog never sensed fear, anxiety or hatred as he usually did when he and his master were surveilling the rebels.
The dog sighed again, yawned and tried blinking the boredom from his eyes. But as the warm sun beamed on his dark coat the dog drifted into a deep sleep. Images of the cheering crowds swirled in his mind. They were waving palm leaves and shouting with joy. But suddenly darkness filled the sky and the crowds swiftly shifted from love to hate and became riotous. The man riding the colt was suddenly alone, his fence of friends gone.
The colt threw the man to the ground and kicked him, drawing blood. The site of blood stirred the crowd into frenzy. The dog barked and charged the crowd but he couldn’t reach them. He grew frustrated wanting a return to order and wanting to protect the fallen man. But he was restrained and could only watch as the downed rider was cruelly beaten by both rebels and Roman soldiers alike. The dog barked as loudly as he could, but the shouts of the crowd were louder, drowning him out.
The dog began to thrash and whimper in his sleep which grew lighter and lighter as he came to a realization that the shouting of the angry crowds was not in his dream.
They were real. Shouts of anger echoed across the market place.