Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, December 15, 2018

MVNews this week:  Page A:7



Mountain Views-News Saturday, December 15, 2018 

Happy Tails

by Chris Leclerc




Beyond the captivating beauty of Caterine is a calm lady 
who craves the peaceful continuity of life in her own 
home. She likes people to approach her slowly and will 
then relax into the hand massaging her head and ears 
and stroking down her soft white and gray coat. The 
attention is rewarded by her purring of contentment 
while she “makes biscuits” on the bed or lap she is on. 
Caterine is more than just a pretty face, which has the 
cutest smudge mustache. She enjoys playing with her 
visitors. A simple shoe string can be the beginning of 
a tug of war game that ends when she wins. Sometimes 
the laser dot game of chase will set off Caterine’s huntress 
instincts. Other times she seems to not want to bother 
with something she wisely knows can’t really catch. 
Caterine’s beauty and sweetness will add décor and 
bring calmness to your home, while also adding some 
fun. Please come meet Caterine in Meow Manor. Take 
advantage of our special adoption fee price of $25 for 
the month of December! The adoption price includes 
spay surgery, a microchip, first vaccinations and a free 
wellness check-up at a participating veterinarian. Feel 
free to call us at (626) 286-1159 for more information. 
She is located at the San Gabriel Valley Humane Society, 
851 E. Grand Ave. Adoption hours are 10:30 a.m. - 4:30 
p.m. Tuesday -Sundays, closed Mondays. Website: www. .

As far back as ten or twelve days ago, I had a specific 
topic in mind for this week’s column. I had even 
mulled it over numerous times as I walked my dogs 
around town, making mental notes of how I might 
write it in a way that I hoped would be inviting and 
interesting to my readers.

 Funny how life has a way of making last-minute 
modifications to the plans we put in place, isn‘t it? You 
know what I‘m talking about; those ‘out-of-nowhere’, 
unexpected occurrences that completely alter your 
course, potentially putting you into a tail spin if you’re 
not flexible and willing enough to bend. I’ve learned that 
it’s best to just go ahead and bend because if you don’t, 
Heaven forbid, you might break.

 I suppose this may be what happened to me last week. 
One minute I was thinking about typing up a story having 
to do with big cats and their habitats, and the next minute 
I was in a state of sadness and shock, somewhat perplexed 
and groping to find the words to properly memorialize 
the life of a dearly beloved four-legged friend.

 Fact is, I find it challenging to write about anything 
that is not within my heart to be written at the moment, 
and likewise difficult to avoid writing that which is. So, 
long story short, I did not break (thankfully), rather I 
bent and began working on a story quite different from 
the one I’d originally planned to write.

 They are only here on earth for a short time, our 
canine companions. Far too short a time, if you ask me. I 
once heard a show host on talk radio say the reason dogs 
live such short lives compared to humans is because God 
takes each of us home when He is sure we’ve learned how 
to love unconditionally, and it just so happens that dogs 
get it a lot quicker than we humans do.

 I actually don’t know if that’s true, but I’d challenge 
anyone to prove that it isn’t. Anyway, I do digress…So, 
the story I decided to write this week is in honor of my 
dear friend, Patches, who was loved and will be missed by 
many of both the two- and four-legged persuasion. Our 
dear Patches fell gravely ill over the weekend and at the 
ripe age of 12 years, on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 he 
crossed that Proverbial Rainbow Bridge. May he rest in 

 Patches was an absolutely gorgeous Red Merle 
Australian Shepherd with lots of light brown spots (thus 
the name Patches) and brilliant blue and brown marbled 
eyes. Even more endearing to me, was his personality. 
Patches had the sweetest disposition you could ever hope 
to find in a dog. He had this uncanny cuteness that really 
drew you in.

 Patches had the most adorable little quirks. For 
example, upon my arrival for our walks each day, he’d 
immediately flip over on his back, knowing I couldn’t 
resist rubbing his soft, pink belly. Then, after our walks 
when we’d get back into the house, I would laugh every 
time he’d lay down and cross his front legs like a human, 
as if he knew I‘d get a kick out of it!

 I honestly don’t think Patches knew what it meant to 
bite someone, though he had a mouth full of healthy teeth 
to do it with. No, Patches wasn’t a fighter or a biter, he 
was a lover. He enjoyed using those pearly whites to greet 
people on the street with a huge smile. It always warmed 
my heart when he’d stare at fellow pedestrians during our 
walks, hoping they would stop and give him a friendly pat 
or a kind word. And I must say, all who did take the time 
to meet Patches were instantly enamored by his beauty, 
inside and out.

 Patches lived a fabulous life with his loving human 
family. But I mustn’t forget to mention the family member 
who was closest to Patches. That would be the apple of 
Patches’ eye; Puck. Now, Puck and Patches were brother-
pups and by that I don’t mean they were biological 
brothers. I just mean as pups, they were brought home 
on the same day, grew up together and spent nearly every 
waking hour together.

 Of course, both being canines, Patches and Puck had 
much in common. But they did have their differences. 
Puck is a darling blonde Cocker Spaniel who is somewhat 
shorter than his brother, Patches was. And much like 
human siblings, the two boys had occasional spats over 
such things as balls and bully sticks, but 99.9% of the time 
they were snuggling buddies who had each other’s backs. 
I imagine they probably even kept a few secrets from their 
humans on each others‘ behalf!

 No words are sufficient to describe the bond I 
have been blessed to have with my precious canine 
companions, not the least of which was the one I have 
had with Patches. And while I cannot claim to feel the 
intensity of loss that Patches’ family is feeling right now, 
I can at least empathize, having been through similar 
scenarios with my own pets. Now it is their turn and I do 
not envy their position.

 All my love goes out to Terry, Patches’ human ’mom’ 
and the entire Sterling family, during their difficult time 
of loss. You have been the most awesome owners for your 
pups, and I know Patches was forever grateful for your 
tender-loving-care. Happy Trails to you, sweet Patches…
til we meet again.



age about 3, is 
waiting for Santa 
to find her a 
home where she 
is treasured. She is 
very happy, super 
loving, playful and sweet and will love you to bits. 
She is FIV+ but we all know by now that it’s easily 
managed, and no meds are needed. NORMA 
JEAN may look just ordinary on the outside, but 
inside she’s as beautiful as Marilyn Monroe! Call 
Lifeline for Pets to meet her: 626-676-9505. See 
more pictures and her cute video at http://www.




A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder


 A few years ago, I recall a 
Christian woman complaining 
that Santa Claus has gained a 
more prominent role during 
the Christmas season than the 
Jesus child. She argued that 
this was a sign that “we” have 
allowed secularism – and maybe 
even paganism – to creep into the Christmas tradition. 

 So, who is Santa Claus? Isn’t he just a fictitious jolly 
man to make us feel happy during the dark of December? 
Not really. There actually was an historical figure, 
upon which “Santa Claus” is based.

 Nikolas of Myra was an historical 4th century Bishop in 
the Catholic church of Asia Minor (modern-day Demre, 
Turkey). He was born on March 15, 270, in Pataya, Lycia, 
in Asia Minor, what is now modern Turkey. At that time, 
however, the area was culturally Greek, and was politically 
a part of the Roman diocese of Asia. He was the 
only child of wealthy Greek parents, who both died in an 
epidemic when Nicholas was young. Nicholas inherited 
much from his parents, and was then raised by his uncle 
(also named Nicholas), who was a Bishop of Patara, and 
who trained young Nicholas into priesthood.

Nicholas was said to be religious from an early age, and 
he always fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays. 

Because of his outspoken beliefs, he was persecuted by 
the Romans and was imprisoned during the persecution 
of Diocletian.

In case you never heard of the “persecution of Diocletian” 
(I hadn’t), it was the most severe of the persecutions 
against Christians, simply because they were 
Christians, in the Roman Empire. It was also known 
as the “Great Persecution.” In 303, four emperors issued 
a series of dictatorial laws which essentially did 
away with any legal rights of Christians. The edicts demanded 
that the Christians comply with traditional Roman 
“religious” practices, meaning, giving sacrifices to 
the various so-called Roman gods. This persecution was 
severe, and was weakest in the British colonies where the 
Empire had the least sway. It was the most severe in the 
Eastern provinces, where Nicholas lived. 

Since Nicholas refused to worship the Roman gods, he 
was imprisoned, and suffered hardship, hunger, and 
cold for about 5 years. With the rise of Constantine, the 
persecutions came to an end in 313. With Constantine 
in power, Nicholas was released. Constantine is known 
for “Christianizing” the Roman Empire, and re-naming 
all the Mythraic and so-called “pagan” holidays so they 
could all now be regarded as Christian holidays.

Shortly after his return to his homeland in 317 A.D., 
Nicholas became the Bishop of Myra. 

 He was later invited to attend the First Council of Nicaea 
in 325, the famous council where much of the 
modern dogma of the Catholic church was determined. 
Nicholas of Myra was one of many bishops to participate 
in the Council at Constantine’s request. He is listed as 
the 151st attendee at the Council. There, Nicholas was 
a staunch anti-Arian. Arius, from Alexandria, held that 
the Son of God did not always exist, but was created by 
the Father. Nicholas disagreed with Arius, and defended 
the developing orthodox Christian viewpoint. According 
to stories told, Nicholas got so angry at Arius that 
he punched him in the face! Really? Proto-Santa Claus 
punches a fellow man of the cloth? Really? 

Back in his homeland, Nicholas became known as a very 
generous bishop. Remember, he inherited wealth from 
his parents, and he would sometimes give gold and other 
valuables to those that he heard was in need. In one 
case, it is said that Nicholas tossed a bag of gold coins 
into a needy family’s yard, anonymously. He was apparently 
humble, and didn’t want to be seen giving money 
to people, so he did it secretly. He was so famous for 
wanting to give such gifts in private when he traveled the 
countryside, children were told to go to sleep quickly or 
Nicholas would not come with gifts. This, apparently, is 
the origin of telling children to go to sleep or that Santa 
will not come.

In one story, he apparently snuck into the home of a 
family where the three daughters of a poor man were 
about to get married. Nicholas put some gold into the 
stockings which the girls left by the fire to dry. This, apparently, 
is the origin of hanging up stockings on Christmas 

He was also well known for the gifts that he gave to 
newly married couples during the already established 
Christmas season.

And so it goes. Nicholas was a complex man, part of 
the new Catholic tradition which celebrated the birth 
of Jesus on the already-observed winter solstice. (Early 
Judeo-Christians did not celebrate the birth of Jesus, a 
date that has been lost to history, but was definitely not 
December 25).

He died on December 6, 343,which is to this day known 
as “Saint Nicholas Day.” Upon his death, he was buried 
in the cathedral of Myra. He is revered as a saint in 
most versions of Christianity and is especially honored 
in Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

By the year 450, churches in Greece and Asia Minor 
were being named in honor of Nicholas. He was officially 
honored as a saint by the Eastern Catholic Church 
in 800. December 6 began to be celebrated as Bishop 
Nicholas Day in France by the 1200s. 


As time went on, when ever someone received a mysterious 
gift, it would be attributed to Saint Nicholas! 

 The Dutch called Saint Nicholas “Sinterklass,” which is 
the most likely manner in which the name Saint Nicholas 
gradually evolved into “Santa Claus.” Along the 
way, Saint Nicholas was given some of the attributes of 
Odin, the Norse God, who could travel through the 
sky and who had a secret home somewhere around 
the north pole. Come to think of it, even the Superman 
story also borrowed from Odin. Remember 
how Superman sometimes goes to a secret cavern in 
the Northern coldlands and converses with his ancestors 
via ice crystals? 

 The image continued to morph over the years, with 
the Coco Cola company giving the world a somewhat 
sanitized and plumper Saint Nicholas-Santa Claus 
with their early 20th century ads. There we began to 
see the fatter bearded man in the red suit. 

Today, the man you see in the mall is the modern 
condensation of fact and myth, embodying the generosity 
of one Catholic Bishop, the good will of all 
who gave gifts in his stead, and bits of the mythology 
of Odin. 


Once again, it is the Christmas season, which means 
I have to put up with people offended by everything, 
particularly that pertains to Christmas.

 When I was young, we had a little saying, “Sticks 
and stones may break your bones but words will never 
hurt you.” And as far as I understand, we stood by that 

 Most people today have never heard that saying 
and maybe somebody ought to educate them on some 
of the realities of life. If words are hurting you, something 
is wrong with “you.”

 Everybody is offended by something. I am offended 
by people who are offended by things I say, which 
makes no sense whatsoever to me.

 Where people got this offend-itis disease is beyond 
me. I wonder if there is any cure for this kind of 

 I was in the restaurant the other day and behind 
me, a person sneezed. Instinctively, I turned around 
and said, “God bless you.”

 Of course, I was not ready for the reply when the 
man said to me, “I’m an atheist don’t you dare use that 
word ‘God’ around me.”

 I am a gentleman otherwise I might have been 
tempted to say something like, “Well, then, God curse 
you.” Thankfully, I did not say anything like that. I 
wonder if unspoken thoughts really matter along this 

 What puzzles me is why somebody who does not 
believe in God is offended by the word “GOD.” The 
fact that he was offended by that word tells me that 
somewhere deep inside of him he believes there is a 
God. Otherwise, it would never have offended him.

 If I was an atheist and someone said to me “God 
bless you,” I would laugh it off because I do not believe 
in God. To be offended by something you do not believe 
has to be the epitome of stupidity.

 Another offensive phrase is, “Merry Christmas.” I 
happened to mention this to a person I was passing 
in the store and they looked at me kind of Scrooge-
like and said, “Don’t you dare wish me a Merry 

 I would like to know why two words like “Merry 
Christmas” are offensive to anyone?

 Being an amateur wordsmith, I like to research 
words and try to find out their original meaning. 
There is no way I have found that the two words 
“Merry” and “Christmas” have anything whatsoever 
offensive to them. Those offended by those two words 
have a chimney that is not smoking.

 If you are offended by those two words, maybe you 
should consider the fact that I may be offended by you 
being offended by those words. What offends one person 
does not make any sense to someone else. This is 
America so keep your offending attitude to yourself.

 Just the other day I was going into a store and there 
was a lady behind me, so as a gentleman, I opened 
the door for her and said, “Ladies first.” I would have 
a hard time understanding the offensiveness of those 
two words.

 The lady looked at me and said, “That is the most 
sexist thing I have heard all day.”

 I have been trying to find out what is sexist about 
those two words.

 I am either homophobic (whatever that means), 
racist or sexist. I do not know if I am all of these things 
at different times or what. I never know if I am one of 
these until somebody tells me I am one.

 There are Christmas songs that we cannot play on 
the radio anymore, movies that we cannot watch at 
Christmas time, decorations that we cannot put outside 
our home anymore.

 I heard recently that the song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” 
is offensive to some people. I have listened to 
that for years and cannot figure out the offensive side 
of that song.

 What’s crazy to me are those offended by that song 
are completely okay with some female singer getting 
on stage barely clothed, singing a depravity soaked 
song with lustful lyrics you can’t use in public.

 Why is that okay and not sexist, but when I open a 
door for a lady and say, “Ladies First,” that is sexist?

 Some people refer to this as the war on Christmas. 
If that is true, I believe those people are losing that 
war. No matter what anybody says or thinks I still will 
celebrate Christmas, wish people “Merry Christmas” 
and say, “God bless you” when somebody sneezes and 
open a door for the ladies.

 If those things offend people, I am happy and most 
delighted to keep doing them.

 For years now, there has been a war on Christmas, 
but it seems that Christmas comes every year at the 
same time. Isn't that simply amazing? No matter what 
people say or how offended they are by it, Christmas 
still comes.

 I could think of quite a few things that would offend 
me. However, I have a thick skin and a tender 
heart. My life is not depended upon somebody being 

 One of my favorite verses in the Bible is in the book 
of Proverbs.

 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean 
not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge 
him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 

 I refuse to let people who are offended by everything 
direct my path. My trust is not in man, but rather 
“in the Lord.”


 Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God 
Fellowship. He lives with the Gracious Mistress of the 
Parsonage in Ocala. Call him at 1-866-552-2543 or e-
mail His web site is www.jamessnyderministries.

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