Police dogs recognize Christ in the Eucharist?

Police dogs recognize Christ in the Eucharist?

A reader forwarded this anecdote that appeared in the Garabandal Journal newsletter dated January/February 2007. The byline is a Father Arthur Byrne. I do not know its provenance or how accurately it represents actual events, but it’s an interesting story nonetheless:

On the evening of the last day of his October 1995 visit to the United States, John Paul II was scheduled to greet the seminarians at Saint Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore. It had been a very full day that began with a Mass at Oriole Park in Camden Yards, a parade through downtown streets, a visit to the Basilica of the Assumption, the first cathedral in the country, lunch at a local soup kitchen run by Catholic Charities; a prayer service at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in North Baltimore; and finally a quick stop at Saint Mary’s Seminary.

The schedule was tight so the plan was simply to greet the seminarians while they stood outside on the steps. But the Pope made his way through their ranks and into the building. His plan was to first make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament.

When his wishes were made known, security flew into action. They swept the building paying close attention to the chapel where the Pope would be praying. For this purpose highly trained dogs were used to detect any person who might be present.

The dogs are trained to locate survivors in collapsed buildings after earthquakes and other disasters. These highly intelligent and eager dogs quickly went through the halls, offices and classrooms and were then sent to the chapel. They went up and down the aisle, past the pews and finally into the side chapel where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved.

Upon reaching the tabernacle, the dogs sniffed, whined, pointed, and refused to leave, their attention riveted on the tabernacle, until called by their handlers. They were convinced that they discovered someone there.

We Catholics know they were right — they found a real, living Person in the tabernacle!

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
15 comments
  • I believe St. Anthony of Padua had a similar story. If I remember correctly, to inspire faith in the people, he brought a hungry dog and put some meat before it, and stood there with the Blessed Sacrament at the same time. The dog ignored the meat and bowed towards the Sacrament.

  • Dogs recognize what few in my diocese still do.  Praise be.  Maybe we should have dogs come into our churches during mass at the consecration to alert the congregation that a change has occurred.  Then maybe they will understand the need to kneel at the consecration and after the Lamb of God.

  • I am not saying that this didn’t happen.  But I am a Search and Rescue canine handler.  If those dogs were in fact indicating on the tabernacle, they were responding to something other than which they were trained to locate.  Dogs indicate a live find based on the scents caused by the decomposition of near microscopic rafts of dead skin.  We all slough lots of it every day (ever wonder why your house gets dusty?  There you go).  This skin decomposes and the scent is then carried on air currents, or pools in low areas.  The decomposition begins almost immediately, and the scent cone radiates out following wind currents.  They are even able to detect the scent of a person buried under three feet of rubble, due to the microclimate within a rubble pile.  Cadaver dogs use a similar, but different, scent source to locate their deceased victims.

    What did these dogs indicate on?  I have no idea. Dogs are, in general, very perceptive animals, and they quite possibly do sense the Real Presence in the tabernacle.  But it is not based upon what they were trained to do, that is, use scent discrimination to locate trapped persons.  It would be based upon their ability to perceive a reality that apparently eludes many humans today:  that Christ is really and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.

    • As a State Police K-9 Handler, I can only say in response to your question “What did these dogs smell”?
      They smelled THE BODY OF CHRIST. Believe for a moment that the dog DID indicate on the Tabernacle. Among the many Eucharistic Miracles that exist throughout the world, this I certainly believe because it is my Faith that enables me to know that Christ exists in the Tabernacle. Oh and just to add one comment, did you ever hear of air scenting. Not to get into any areas of expertise. My only comment, how strong is our Faith. Christ died on the cross for our sins, I wasn’t there but I believe and have faith.

  • Well, as Aquinas’s hymn testifies, the Church does not teach that the Presence is susceptible to the senses – quite the contrary. The senses perceive the accidents, not substance. That’s the Catholic faith. Stories like this don’t help the faith because they invite people to disbelieve if their own senses don’t track that of what is reported.

  • Yeah, how dare God send those Eucharistic miracles in Lanciano and Naples and Offida and Santarem? How dare St. Anthony use the donkeys reverencing the Eucharist and those other saints with similar stories?

    Don’t they know that the theology of the Eucharist says the substance is not discernible to our senses? I mean, you’d think that the average person didn’t study Aquinas and know what transubstantiation means and have the Eucharistic theology developed over the past 2,000 years memorized.

    Liam, come down from the ivory tower.

  • Dom

    I don’t know the veracity of the St Anthony story (about a mule): there are loads of stories about the saints that are pious folklore.

    God could certainly induce animals to worship him.

    But that’s different than implying the a dog smelled our Lord’s presence as such.

    Subtle, but important distinction.

    And, having had friends whose rather poorly catechized faith crumbled as the stories they were told as children dissolved upon inspection, it’s an issue I am very sensitive too. Hardly the ivory tower. More like the ditch on the side of the road where some cars fell….

  • The point of Eucharistic miracles is that, for once,  something happens which _is_ perceptible to the senses, as opposed to the normal way.

    So, like most “consolations” and “favors”, it’s training wheels for faith, or a faith booster shot. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you don’t expect it to happen all the time.

    So _normally_, one would not expect a dog to sniff out the Real Presence. In this case, the dogs would have either sensed Him mystically (probably in a way which expressed itself in their brains as smell), or the Lord would have performed a miracle which caused His smell to materialize in that place.

    Either way, theological texts are descriptive of God, not prescriptive to Him. smile

    • It is possible that on some natural level that the reality of the real presence can be detected. Humans can’t see microbes without a microscope. We can’t hear or see certain sound and light ranges. However, they exist never the less and maybe detectable with aids to the senses. Dogs have a wider capacity to hear and smell than humans do. The animals I image aren’t capable of faith but were able to sense someone there.
      I can usually sense God’s presence after receiving communion within a few minutes and that presence grows as time passes. This maybe from the capacity of the human spirit to sense this and not natural senses. This capacity I imagine is a gift and probably not commonly ordinary. Faith is a capacity to accept something as true in spite of the senses but based on God’s word that it is true, this is a gift from God.
      God may have aided the belief of the Dog’s in the same way, he used them to aid our belief in the real presence. In essence a double miracle perhaps.
      The Dogs reacting is a way of God speaking this truth to people.

  • Maureen

    But of course, as I acknowledged. This is just an area of fairly easy confusion on the part of the faithful that it merits clarification.

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