This week’s true story of cross-cultural friendship involves both a very common kind of relationship and a unique religious expression of that friendship. In an earlier ReadTheSpirit story, David Crumm profiled Covenant Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, which launched the nation’s first regular weekly worship services at which members bring their family dogs. Canines are controversial in some world religions. For example, contact with dogs can leave Muslims needing to perform a fresh ablution before the next prayer time. Many other religious sensitivities draw lines against pets in worship. Nevertheless, Covenant church members talk about their friendships with dogs as an essential part of their lives and closely related to their Christian faith. Today, we share two short stories from Covenant members, talking about their experiences.
EMMA SCZESNIAK’S STORY …
My friends are Marley, a terrier-mix who now is one and a half years old, and Midnight, a Lab mix who has been with us for eight years. We rescued both of them from the pound.
I’ve had dogs pretty much all my life, since I was a kid. We’ve had all kinds of dogs and I loved that. When we moved to Westchester in Los Angeles, we didn’t have a dog for quite a few years and I really missed that. We felt we needed that in our home again.
We went to the LA city pound both times and, both times, we rescued dogs that really needed a home. Before we took her home, Midnight had been terribly treated. She was frightened. She was in the pound because she’d just had puppies and someone had dumped her. She was a real mess until we took her home, reassured her and got her back to health and feeling safe again.
Our dogs pretty much rule the house, I’d say. They mean so much to us that when this service started at Covenant, I wanted to bring them with me. We’ve been through so much with Midnight that it was a shock when the vet found a lump on her leg six months ago. He said it was bone cancer and we saw a cancer specialist next, who said Midnight probably had only about two more months.
We prayed for Midnight here at Covenant. We still do and, to this day, she’s doing wonderfully well. Look at her. She gets around just fine and seems happy. These two, Marley and Midnight, are a big part of our lives.
LESLIE EVANS’ STORY …
We rescued M.E. when she was three months old. At that time, 10 years ago, we had three children at home and this was to be their dog. They wanted to call her “Emmy” and they spelled it “M.E.” Now, I’ve only one child left at home for a while longer. M.E. has become a very important part of our family and my own life.
She’s made us laugh. We also have four cats and, when we first got M.E., she thought she was a cat, too. She learned differently when she discovered she couldn’t climb the draperies like the cats. She’s taught us about peacemaking, which she has to do with four cats in the house!
M.E. is gentle when I take her to church, but at home she’s very protective of me. How much does M.E. mean to me? That’s very hard to put into words, but I’ll tell you this: About six months ago, she had a seizure and, oh, suddenly I was so scared for her. We zoomed off to an emergency vet, worrying all the time. She was fine after the seizure passed and the vet thinks she may have eaten some poison put out in the garden for snails. But I did learn just how much M.E. means to me that night.
When we started this service at Covenant, I thought the whole thing seemed very weird. But I tried it and it’s become a nice time that M.E. and I spend together each week. This has become a very important part of our lives now.
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(Originally published at www.FriendshipAndFaith.com)