The monks did not know if he was alive or dead. The emperor called for his death and a group of men kidnapped him and apparently killed him. But there was no body and occasionally came a rumor that the kidnappers took him into hiding to save his life. But as the weeks stretched into months and no firm word, the monks felt that their leader was not going to return. They choose one monk to care for the building while the others left, taking nearly everything that was not nailed down, including several dogs that the monks kept to warn them if someone tried to listen to their discussions. The monk who was left was barely able to hide a small puppy from the others. He wanted it to catch mice and rats and therefore would not feed the puppy, thinking it would make him a better mouser.
One night there was a knock on the door. The monk was surprised and pleased as a burley man with a thick beard came in. The monk made dinner for his guest. As he sat down to eat, he saw the puppy and cut off a piece of sausage to feed him. The monk protested but the guest, known as Squire George, ignored the monk as he shared his meal with the puppy. Squire George was the long lost leader of the monastery, returned from hiding to help his friends with some difficult choices. The puppy and Squire George became fast friends, sharing the meal, playing and slept that night together.
The next morning Squire George shaved and went to visit his friends who needed his advice. White his friends were happy that he was alive and to see him again, they were not too welcoming of his advice, and Squire George returned home feeling very sad. Walking in the door the puppy saw him and came running to Squire George, giving him a welcome that only a puppy can give, and Squire George couldn’t help but laugh and while playing with the puppy said “No one else liked me today, but you still like me, you must be a fool to still like me” and the word “Fool” or “Tolpel” (umlaut over the “o”) became the puppy’s name.
The years went by and the friendship with Tolpel grew. Squire George married and had children, and Toplel was a part of the family, and probably protected the family since he was still a good mouse and rat catcher, even with sharing in the family meals, and that probably protected Squire George and his family from getting the Plague that came across Europe.
Squire George worked hard and sometimes saw very good results, but other times not so good results, and these times would make Squire George very sad. After one hard day Squire George was feeling very sad. He looked at his life and felt like a failure. He even felt that God could not love him and he was thinking that it was so hopeless that he should just give up his work and give up on God. As he was thinking this, Toplel saw him and gave Squire George the type of friendly greeting that only a beloved dog can give his master, which reminded Squire George of Tolpel’s greeting while still a puppy, Squire George then felt “Tolpel loves me! If Tolpel can love me, I know that Jesus also loves me!” and he recommitted his heart to Jesus and continued with his work, which has been a blessing to all of us, since Squire George was the name that Martin Luther used while hiding from the emperor.
In showing Jesus love to Tolpel by being kind to this puppy, Jesus was able to show his love to Martin Luther through Tolpel.
This story was adapted from “Tolpel, Luther’s dog” by William Graffan. It’s a small book and part of the story is in Tolpel is in this book and in the two other children’s book Graffan wrote on Martin Luther and on Luther’s wife. They are available from S. G. Verlag, Brestauerstaasse 15, 38176 Wittenberg/Bortfeld Germany.