Our regional breed club held a Fun Day today, which included Berner Olympics, Paw and Ear fur-trimming, Canine Good Citizen testing and a Fun Match, which is the user-friendly version of a dog show. Our Sam won a second place ribbon in the Adult Male Pet category. The judge commented that he was a little taller than the standard, and that he seemed to “like his cream puffs.” Oh, well. The ribbon is proudly displayed on the refrigerator, which I suppose is appropriate! Molly enjoyed meeting everyone, especially the people with good-smelling treats in their pockets. Yes, we all like our cream puffs around here…
I used the last day of my Study Leave week, a day off from worship leadership, to perform another sort of pastoral task today: a Blessing of the Animals. Along with Rhode Island Rabbi, I was asked to bless the Berners. RIRabbi and I worked up a service via e-mail. We gave thanks for animals, reflected on God’s word to us about their care and prayed for animals who are ill as well as those who are poorly treated by people. Then we invited people to bring their dogs forward for an individual blessing, if desired.
And forward they came: old dogs, rescue dogs, sick dogs, puppies. Some came in pairs; one owner told me, “They are a team,” and as they stood beautifully still next to each other, I blessed them together. Some young dogs circled their people as I reached after them. Each one was touched by RIRabbi or by me, and we prayed these words over them:
Beloved Creature, Friend and Companion, may God your Creator bless, defend and keep you, this day and forever. Amen.
#2 Son helped me make a remembrance card for each dog. The club’s logo shows a Bernese Mountain Dog pulling a cart, and beneath this image we included today’s date and the words “Beloved and Blessed.”
Emma is 11 years old. She was abandoned by her family at 10, left at the vet to be “put to sleep.” But there was nothing really wrong with Emma that a little medical treatment could not address, and the vet sought a new home for her. Her new mama had lost an older Berner and was outraged to hear that Emma had been discarded. She has been happy to make Emma part of her family. Emma, left so carelessly, has now become a therapy dog, making weekly visits to Alzheimer’s patients. She is beloved and blessed and blessing.
After everyone had cleared away, heading to the Parade of Rescue Dogs, I waved to #2 Son who had our dogs, and he joined us. I asked RIRabbi if she would bless Molly and Sam. We stood there, The Princess and #2 Son and I, while she blessed our blessings. Surely, they are beloved.
You think dogs will not be in heaven?
I tell you, they will be there long before any of us.
~Robert Louis Stevenson