Today’s feast of St. Francis of Assisi prompts me to recollect for a moment what a blessing our dog, Carly, has been to our family. Her ability to form relationships with people is very special, and it was evident from the beginning nine years ago when we adopted her from a shelter. We visited the shelter in the middle of a week and spent individual time with Carly as well as another dog, Luke, a hound mix, and determined to return a few days later to make a selection. The family was divided with some wanting Carly and one child in particular preferring Luke. Not knowing how in the world this could be resolved without incurring serious hurt feelings, I heard myself say, “The Holy Spirit will tell us what dog to adopt.” When we arrived the second time, Luke was outside in an enclosed yard, playing with another dog. Inside, we went back to the kennel areas where the dogs were behind glass. Carly was sitting down, reclined, but head up. Amazingly, when she saw us, her ears perked up in immediate recognition, she looked directly into my eyes with a hopeful eagerness that said, “Ok, I’m ready. Let’s go!” I nearly choked up, the communication felt that palpable. The rest of the family was aware of it too, and we took her home that day. Over the years, she has formed unique relationships with Joe and each child as well as extended family members and others who come to our home, like our mail carrier, painter and cleaning people. Carly has even won over several “non-dog people.” She still “speaks” with her eyes when she wants a walk or a treat or one of her bowls is empty, but also when she’s confused or sad. I’ll never forget four years ago when Kieran and Christian both followed Michael back to regular school when Carly had only ever known homeschooling – for days her mournful eyes kept asking, “Where are they?” After Joe’s mom died, the next time his dad came over, Carly looked past him to the car as he came into the house, searching for Ruth. But after marking these transitions, Carly models for us how to live in the moment, basking in present joys.
“Blessed are you, O God, maker of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired St. Francis to call all of them brothers and sisters. In gratitude for her consoling canine presence in our lives, we bless Carly today. May we always praise the divine beauty of all creation. Amen.”