Headmaster's Blog

Substance Over Silhouette

I confess that I am not a dog fan. Everyday when we go for a walk, Ros makes a bee-line for any dog. She chats away to the owner and pats the dog whilst I keep walking. Ros has met lots of people around the neighbourhood in this way. I have noted that dogs are not careful where they roll and so, apart from the possibility of being bitten, I also think of germs and worse, migrating to ones hands.

I console myself that I am more of a people person than a dog person. I explain that I can have conversations with people and I can talk about their dreams, hopes and aspirations. I explain that this is not possible with a dog. Dog people, like Ros, just look strangely at me when I say this – as though I am
completely missing the point.

This is why, on our visit to Norway last year, Ros wanted to visit a Husky Farm. It was one of those expensive out-trips that are an option on the tour so I was insistent that we did not go and that it was a rip-off. Ros was equally insistent that we go and so in the end we compromised and went.

I must admit that I was kind of curiously looking forward to seeing the sled dogs. I had seen their pictures on TV – white fur, steely blue eyes. Imagine my disappointment (and the validation I
received that it was a rip-off) when we arrived and the dogs looked nothing like that at all. In fact, we were shown into a yard of what looked like kelpies. It was as if we had arrived at a farm in
Dubbo – except with snow. Ros paid no heed to my inner turmoil and made haste towards the “cute” dogs who were wagging their
tails (and mocking me I suspected).

She started patting them and telling them they were nice and sweet in a weird baby voice. Bored after 15 seconds, I struck up a conversation with one of the farm workers who was busy shovelling dog fertilizer into a wheelbarrow. It turned out that she was Hanne Lyrek, the winner of the longest dog-sled race in Europe. This was cool: what a find!

I asked her, as politely as I could, about the dogs. She smiled. Hanne told me that she would never use one of the White Siberian huskies for a race. She said that they are all looks and no substance. She pointed to a small dog called Meische who ended up being the lead dog across the line in her first attempt at the race when she finished 17th, a disastrous race where most of her bigger dogs became tired or injured. It was the smallest dog, Meische, (seen with Ros in the picture), who lasted the longest. The small unattractive dog reminded me of a story from the Bible in 1 Samuel 16:7 where the LORD said to Samuel,

“Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

At that time, the people were begging God for a King. They wanted a strong, handsome, intelligent leader with lots of personality. They were looking for a white husky. Instead, God chose a small,
unattractive shepherd, David. A racing dog. It’s what is inside that counts when choosing a king. When you pray for a new Head for our College, please pray for a working dog and not a white husky.

Pray for substance over silhouette.