Old story of temple guard dog recalled during rededication weekend for Washington D.C. Temple

Aug 14, 2022, 12:38 PM | Updated: 3:43 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Washington D.C. Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been closed for the last four years because of a renovation and then the pandemic.

The First Presidency traveled to our nation’s capitol this weekend to rededicate the temple.

President Russell M. Nelson toured the newly renovated temple Saturday with Presiding Bishopric Bishop Gerald Causse Bishop.

It is tradition after completion of a new temple or renovation of an older one for the presiding bishopric to turn the temple back over to the First Presidency making Saturday another historic day for the Washington D. C. Temple.

There are many interesting stories that are part of the history of this temple, including one about a self-proclaimed guard dog.

Construction of the Washington, D.C. temple took place in the early 1970s. During that time, workers discovered some vandalism on the site. One day, a german shepherd showed up and refused to leave. He acted like a guard dog so they decided to keep him.

Judy Emily Cox worked as the office secretary. Her boss made a request.  “And he said, ‘We want a name. We want a short, masculine. And we’d like it to be from the Bible.’ So they said, ‘We want you to come up with the name.’ And it just popped in my head, Zacharias. And I said you can call him Zach for short. And so they said, ‘that’s it!’

She remembered Zacharias the temple priest, the father of John the Baptist.

Zach, the temple guard dog, slept under the superintendent’s desk during the day and patrolled the grounds at night. One evening, he refused to leave the Annex Building.

“And so when he went back in to check, they discovered a fire. If Zach hadn’t smelled it, I guess, and kept telling there’s something the matter in there that it could have been a lot worse,” Cox said.

John Howell, the assistant construction foreman lived in a trailer on the temple property with his wife, Ida, and daughter Serena, who made a film about her experience there with Zach.

“He became a faithful companion to the temple watchman and chased away trespassers. He must have seemed very ferocious to them but Zach and I were great friends,” Serena narrated in the film. “I think Zach knew this was a holy place, too.”

When workers completed construction on the temple, Zach disappeared but Cox knew what happened to him. “I know one of the fellows from the crew had said he was going to take him home with him. So, he went to a good home from somebody that had worked on the temple site.”

Zach the temple guard dog is a part of the history of this temple.

Sunday it will be the site of more history when President Nelson, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring rededicate the Washington, D.C. Temple.

You can see that story from the 52-acre property in Kensington, Maryland coming up Sunday on KSL TV at 10 p.m.

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Old story of temple guard dog recalled during rededication weekend for Washington D.C. Temple