These are acceptable dogs... with some reservations regarding Cocker Spaniels.
Poodles are Unacceptable!
That was the speaker's opinion. This analogy was extended to members of the church board. There are those he likes and those whose opinions he dreads. He could accept decisions made by the poodle members but isn't happy when they occasionally succeed in out-voting the Labs, Setters, and most Spaniels on the church board.

Well, I want to respond that dogs other than the Working Breeds are deserving and should not be frozen out of leadership activities and spokesman opportunities. All dogs are worthy. Denying the non-Working breeds encouragement and full approval and support makes the church lopsided in its appeal and drives the frowned upon breeds to be inclined to leave the church.

I have owned an English Setter, a Poodle, and a Cocker Spaniel in the last twenty years. A number of years ago I read in the Guide for juniors that maybe dogs who were really good would go to heaven. The story contradicted everything I'd always understood about what or who can go to heaven, as well as the concept of salvation coming from faith and not one's good works. I don't know how that article ever got published and may have missed the message or context of the story.

But I always said that if any dog could go to heaven it would be Sugar, our English Setter. She was older than the poodle and always waited on the poodle to finish eating before feeding herself. She also made sure that the poodle didn't escape through the hole in the fence. Sugar herself would walk out exploring when she was alone and the gate were accidently left open. But she would never allow the little poodle to get out of the yard. And Sugar understood that she was too big to sit on our lap except on those occasions that we might sit on the floor with her.

This English Setter was a saint for a dog. But the speaker didn't know my English Setter. He was looking at the outward appearances and the reputation.

Working/hunting dogs are useful.
Prissy goomed dogs are useless.
But poodles and cocker spaniels become awfully tangled when their hair grows untrimmed. Our Cocker Spaniel Sweetie will walk right into the grooming cage, shake hands with the groomer (as well as her vet) and seemingly enjoy the experience. Her personality is the same before and after grooming. But our Poodle Megan always returned from grooming high strung for days afterward. She didn't like the grooming and thought she would have preferred to be the less fussed over animal that the speaker prefers, the dogs who don't need such regular grooming.

Megan, the poodle, looked prissy. She was small but could jump from the floor into my wife's arms as soon as my wife walked in the door. My wife is short, but a standing jump by a 10 inch tall dog into standing arms is a feat. And she totally trusted that she would be caught. Can you imagine her self-esteem if her welcoming hug were ignored? After several attempts and several rebuffs along with the crash onto the floor she would have retreated to the corner of the room.

As you can see, poodles are working dogs. In the 1990''s the poodle became eligible to participate in the field trials. And until 200 years ago, poodles were the preferred water spaniels for hunting. Poodle comes from the German word puddle. Even the American Water Spaniel owes his heritage to poodles.

Until the Industrial Revolution, only the rich were permitted to hunt. Earlier in history, the lower classes were even executed if caught hunting. So rich persons owned poodles and independent-minded Americans wanted to disassociate themselves from all things lordly. Thus the abandonment of poodles by robust, common working Americans.

But associated or not associated, poodles can hunt. Even the miniature poodle was breed by crossing with a terrier to produce a truffle hunting dog to sniff out the delicate, flavorful fungus growing just under the soil surface. They may not be hunters, but are certainly workers.

See and for more information.

Cocker Spaniels are working dogs. They have always been eligible to compete in field trials. Yes, they need their long hair cut frequently... But my Sweetie loves to hunt. I accept the apparent need to thin the herd or flock. But I can''t imaging shooting a beautiful, valuable living creature, so Sweetie can only chase the animals she finds in our town, mostly black squirrels. She did catch our escaped hampster once. Naturally we assumed the hampster would be dead. But Sweetie brought our hampster to us and dropped it into my hands entirely unhurt. That''s what she''s supposed to do in the field with a downed bird. The downed bird may be dead from the gunshot, but the dogs should return the prey undamaged. I''m sure that Sweetie could do that. Her best friend is our 2 pound ferret. They play hard together. I''m quite sure that she''d not hurt the squirrel if she could catch it either.

None of my three dogs has been Prissy! Two of them may have looked prissy... But they merely looked different. They had the same energy and desire to have a good time, to be patted on the head, and to have opportunities to be the real dogs that they were.

The same is true of church members who appear different. They are shyed away from because they seem different. And they will always seem different because in some outward ways they can''t help but be different. But they need to be welcomed, approved of, allowed to participate with reasonable expectation that their energies and efforts, ideas and ideals will not be selfishly resisted by the rest of the pack.

We''ll embrace poodles in heaven and we ought to be learning how to embrace them in our churches on this earth until then.