You think dogs will not be in heaven?  I tell you, they will be there long before any of us. – These words of Robert Louis Stevenson are likely true.

The truth is, I never really liked dogs. In fact I would almost say that I really pretty much afraid of dogs. I really did not care to be around dogs. Would you agree that it seems odd really when you see the guy at church this past Sunday running about with a dog as he preached? So what happened?

When we moved to Tecumseh 10 years ago we became friends of Jerry and Donna Marcotte soon after we arrived. At that time, they had a young pup named Haley. A lovely Golden Retriever. When we would visit Jerry and Donna’s house Haley made it impossible for me not to love her. She is so friendly and so beautiful and so loving that she reduced my fear, removed my discomfort and opened me to the love of dogs. A few short years ago Haley was joined by Zoe and she too is so full of life and so loving that she has become a favourite dog of mine as well. When you see how wonderfully she preached on Sunday you can understand why. I love Haley and Zoe.

My nephew Roger got a dog a few years back as well. Dryden is a beautiful Black Labrador Retriever, named after the greatest goaltender of all time. She is amazing really. She is uber-obedient to Roger or for that matter to whomever else she is entrusted when he is not with her. A visit to Newfoundland is always an opportunity to play with Dryden – something I dreamed of as a child – who did not want to play with an icon like Dryden?

My friend Bill has a sweet Beagle named Daisy. She is another dog whose personality has captured my attention and allowed me to embrace the idea that I actually do like dogs. I have always been impressed with the friendship between Bill and his canine friend. It is more than friendship really. There is a real sense of commitment to each other. I see it in Donna and Jerry and in Roger as well. What a great level of care and attention they give to their canine companion.

Holbrook Jackson said that, "Man is a dog’s idea of what God should be." I can see that in these relationships. The owners are the provider and the caregiver. A dog knows that everything that she enjoys in life comes from her master. I can see in Daisy a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving for what she receives from her master. We have watched Dryden go into a near depression when Roger has gone away for a few days. Haley and Zoe almost dance in praise in celebration of their masters. Just as we seek to find God, the Dog will seek to find the master. Dogs do a better job than humans at offering adoration and praise to their master. Dogs need the master and they know it.

Sometimes wonder if we realize how much we need our Master. Do we understand how very much God is our provider, our care giver and our protector? We have been conditioned to believe that we are in charge, that we can do anything and that we are in control. Oddly we all have had those moments in life when we find out how very much we are not in control of much. It does not seem to matter, we are often almost arrogant when it comes to our need to feel that we are in the driver’s seat.

As a part of my Lenten journey I have tried to find a way to each day pray that I might understand that I am not in control. I am trying to embrace the love that God has for me and for all and to accept that love with praise and gratitude. I have been provided for, I have been loved, and I have been nurtured but I am not so sure that I have offered back to my Master the gratitude and respect that I should. I am going to keep working on giving more thanks to God and work more and understanding that all that I enjoy comes from my Master. It seems to me that Daisy, Haley, Zoe and Dryden have lots to teach me in that department.

[I would like to add that I have also witnessed that gratitude from cats and I think they too have a healthy respect for their master – albeit offered in a more reserved and controlled manner. Cats still remind the four legged pet of choice in my household. I am just so glad that I have come to see the joy of being loved by a dog.]

You can see video highlights of Zoe’s visit to St. Mark’s this past Sunday by clicking here, or by visiting our parish webpage at www.stmarkschurch.net a little later today.