Dog Ministry

“So,”  I said, as we cleared the dinner table, “we’re watching a few dogs this weekend.”

My husband spoons rice into a Tupperware container and frowns. “How many is ‘a few’?”

“Well, four,” I reply. “Gunner, Chico, Dixie, and Henley.”

He rolls his eyes, but he doesn’t say no. This is as close to consent as I’m going to get.

Since our own dog died back in the spring, we have started our unofficial Dog Ministry. We watch our friends’ dogs, for free, because our hearts need it.

The rules are simple: we won’t watch your dog if he or she is an asshole. With all due respect to asshole dogs, we’re renting. So if your dog chews, digs, attacks, or pees with abandon, you can find kinder people than us.

We also will go about our business, meaning your dog will be outside or crated sometimes. We think these are reasonable rules.

Other than that, we welcome all things drooly, furry, and four legged. And canine. Sorry cats: we said “no assholes.”

Most weekends, we have a dog. Sometimes two. We take them on walks. We let them sleep on our beds (a treat we never allowed our real dog). We rub their tummies and throw balls in the backyard. They rub their noses in the sand on the beach, and they kill the flies and chase the birds.

My husband, who claims this is all my idea, takes them outside and chases them until they are panting and gulping down water. They all get nicknames: “Drools,” “Fruit Bat,” “Crazy,” “Cheeks,” and so on. He transitions to home quicker, smiles a bit more.  He needs this.

The boys stop their play and rest their heads against the bellies of the larger ones. They carry the smaller ones. Unlike our Eucy, these dogs aren’t afraid of stairs, and rest at their feet when they play video games. They bicker about who gets to hold the leash when we take them to the beach or for a cafe.

These dogs remind us that we can and do keep loving. We aren’t getting a new dog at this time, because it may cost a lot of money to bring one home when we move to America. There’s never a practical time to get a dog. But, loving our friends’ dogs? We can do this.

With every Chico, Ozzie, Rex, Peppa, Gunner, Henley, or Dixie, we heal a bit. We laugh a bit. And we remember how very important it is to find the silver lining in loss, the grace in paws.



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