For the love of dogs

Cogitation 52 We enjoy seeing other people’s dogs. We do not have a dog of our own. Once upon a time I was allergic to dogs. But, for some strange reason, the allergy took flight. For 17 years, we were owned by a cat, Miss Kitty. For the moment, we’re happy to interact with other people’s pets.

I could call this blog, “For the love of cats and dogs.” No matter, the love extends to all creatures that find a place in, and beyond, our homes.

Many years ago, we were spending a few days in Chicago. The hotel offered to put a goldfish in anyone’s room who might be missing their pet. I took the hotel up on the offer, and, indeed, the goldfish provided a reassuring, homey welcome.

Pets, for me, are one of God’s wonders that put bliss, and love, in our hearts.

Year in review featuring dogs

I’m going to do a brief “sort of year in review” featuring dogs. There were more dogs I wanted to feature, but technical difficulties precluded that. The inspiration comes from Louise Penny’s 2019 novel, A Better Man. I just read it this week. Penny dedicated the book “to Bishop, our golden. No better dog, no more loving companion.”

Bishop died while Penny was writing the book. I’m deeply moved by her tribute to Bishop in the Acknowledgements. Here are Penny’s inspiring words:

“Bishop is the last in a long line of golden retrievers who have shared, and improved, our lives. Who taught us how to be more generous, more kind, way more forgiving. More patient. More human.

“Our first golden was Bonnie.

“I’d wanted a dog for a long time. Michael did not. Just before we got married I somehow convinced him that a puppy would be the perfect wedding gift to each other. It was, for Michael, the same as giving each other razor-sharp teeth, pee, poop, and tumbleweeds of hair.

“He was not enthusiastic.

“After our honeymoon we picked up Bonnie, all eight weeks of her, and brought her home.

“She immediately peed. Then cried all night.

“In the morning I came down to find Michael cradling her, and Bonnie curled, asleep, in his arms.

“She was forever his. And he was hers.

“Each successive dog, over twenty years, tolerated me and bonded to Michael. Which, I must say, was fine with me. I loved seeing the joy in both their eyes when they spotted each other.

“Not long after Michael was diagnosed with dementia, our last golden, Trudy, passed away. Michael came with me to the vet, and watched, befuddled by what was happening. Upset that I was upset, but not quite grasping why.

“For weeks, Michael looked for Trudy. And asked where she was. It broke my already fragile heart.

“A month or so later, knowing our distress, Kirk came by and said he’d heard about an old dog, a golden, whose family could no longer care for him. Would we like to meet him?

“Michael was doing his ever-present jigsaw puzzle when Bishop arrived, just for a visit. Bishop took one look at Michael, walked over, placed his teddy chew toy on Michael’s lap, sat down, and barely left Michael’s side, until the day Michael died.

“Bishop was our miracle dog. Our gift from a loving Higher Power.

“He was dedicated to Michael. And so, after Bishop’s passing this spring, at the grand age of fourteen, it seemed only right to return the favor, and dedicate A Better Man to a wonderful dog.

“Indeed, to all our dogs.

“To all the cats, horses, birds, gerbils, fish, and animals who make our lives so much better. Who give up their freedom, for us.”

Louise Penny captures the sentiment. Real life. Real relationships forged between humans and creatures great and small. Something to celebrate in making us more human and humane.

Friends on four legs

Roger, bell captain at St Anta and All Saints in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, UK, in February with his ever-present dog, Barnabas.
Murphy, pleading for a bite while we had lunch with Cindy, Goshen, IN, in June.
Evelyn with Lilly and their daughter- and son-in-law’s Corgi Finch, in State College, PA.
Milou shares his home with Murray and Kaye in Brampton, ON, here showing how much he enjoyed the leftover casserole.
Two-year-old Iris, on Christmas Day in Shipshewana, IN, traveling there with her expert “trainers,” Jenny and Rory, from Boston, MA.
Nappanee, IN, one of the dogs created by artists using cast off materials.

Give us bliss in our hearts

Bliss and more bliss, hope, joy, trust, care, faith, eagerness to walk into the New Year. Peace.

-John

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