"I believe every creature is important. The love we give to a pet, and receive from a pet, can draw us more deeply into the larger circle of life, into the wonder of our common relationship to our Creator."
Kevin E. Mackin, O.F.M., is a Franciscan of the Holy Name Province.
I couldn't agree more with Brother Mackin.
If you read my 100 Things post, you already know that I love dogs... all dogs. My wife and I used to have two retired racing greyhounds. Even after we had Olivia, these dogs were very much part of our family, as are most house dogs in this country.
Sadly, both of our hounds eventually got sick (about a year and a half apart) and I had to do what all responsible pet owners must be prepared to do: Had them euthanized.
I'm still not over it, but at least now I can think about them without getting all weepy.
I still love dogs.
My next door neighbor has a dog. A gorgeous pit bull named Darla. Darla and I have a close relationship... we're best pals. When my neighbor has to travel (she is in the Air Force) I often take care of Darla by walking/feeding her and giving her some attention so she won't feel lonely.
Saturday evening, Danielle called to say that she would be working late, and could I give Darla her evening walk. I did, and after her walk I fed her. After she ate her food, darla came over to me for some petting, so I petted her and talked to her and massaged her shoulders while her tail wagged mightily.
While all of this was going on, I was thinking about the unconditional love given to us by our dogs, and what a great gift it is. Before I even formed the thought I looked into the face of that pooch and said aloud: "Well, I never thought I'd find the face of God here, but I have."
I thought of how in most societies dogs are considered the lowest of the low. We even say things like "I wouldn't feed that to the dogs" and things like that. While spending time with this dog I wondered where my regard for these animals intersected with my faith.
My answer came to me immediately in the form of the 47th verse of the 9th chapter in the Gospel of Luke, where Christ said: "...And anyone who welcomes me welcomes the One who sent me. The least important person among all of you is the most important."
Am I making any sense here? Probably not, but it has been on my mind since then, and I can't shake it.
I guess, for me, it boils down to this: Anyone that is cruel to animals or mistreats them is guilty of a grievous sin.
Dogs are people, too.