Today the Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, pets, and the wonders of God’s creation.
Almost everyone I know loves animals and most have at least one pet. When my three kids were growing up, they often asked to have a dog. I always told them that we were too busy and rarely home at a decent time which would be unfair to a pet. They had to settle for the occasional goldfish from Saint Margaret’s Fall Festival or the John Carroll Country Fair.
When Katie was a senior at John Carroll in 2006, her best friend Jen got a pug puppy and named her Lola. I think Katie might have been more excited than Jen. She ran into my office after school on Lola’s homecoming day and told me that she was going home with Jen to meet the new puppy. Within an hour both girls came back through my door with huge smiles as Jen proceeded to take little pug-bundle-of-joy Lola out of her big purse and place her in my arms. Lola was too adorable for words. And, of course, Katie was in love. She spent the night at Jen’s that first night and that is where her “plan” was hatched. Katie began to tell us how much we needed a dog and how great pugs are and how simple are their needs. Can you picture this?
Within two weeks, Katie had not only convinced her older brother and sister to gang up on us, but they had found all the listings for new pug puppies in the area. My husband gave in first and agreed to Katie’s plan for total care and commitment to this unfound new puppy. After school the next day I found out that Katie had arranged for Meighan to meet up at our home after her classes at Towson to go pick out the new puppy from an eight-week old litter located about an hour away near the airport. Joseph was working at Panera Bread until close that day and insisted that the girls text him with play-by-play accounts of what was happening.
When we arrived at the private home, we were greeted by the owners, their young daughter, and the last two pug puppies—both females. As you can probably imagine, Katie and Meighan each scooped up a puppy and held them tightly while grinning from ear to ear. Love at first sight? I think so.
Long story short:
We stopped at Panera Bread on our way home that evening and astonished Joseph with two pug puppies: Lilly and Bella. My husband’s wallet was much lighter, but he was the hero for agreeing to two new pups. Lilly soon after went to live with Meighan, and Bella stayed with us. Puppy bliss abounded in our homes.
The excitement lasted three weeks until we learned that not only was Bella sick, but she had a malfunctioning liver shunt. She would go to puppy-heaven within the next week. Needless to say, we were all heartbroken. But Joseph, my husband, and our vet all agreed that there were healthy puppies out there that needed a family. I finally went along in spite of my sad heart. Thus, Bella-grief became Daisy-joy.
Daisy, our honey apricot-colored pug, has been part of our family for over six years now. The family has changed a lot since 2006: We have been blessed with a grandson, a second son-in-law, two more “grand-dogs,” and last year we became empty-nesters. It is just my husband, me, and the sweet little pug around which our home revolves. Everything they say about dogs is true: the unconditional love, the always-happy-to-see-you attitude, the fun, games, playtimes, and walks. And the constant companionship no matter what you are doing….
When the gift shop at the Basilica opened after the renovations, I found a great Saint Francis medal for dogs and bought a box of them. Daisy goes through one every six or seven months before the tab wears through and it falls off. But her Saint Francis medal reminds me of the love this special saint had for all of God’s creation and the special bond he shared with animals.
May the bonds we share with our pets bring joy to our hearts each day!!
Dearest God, Heavenly Father, maker of all living creatures,
we ask you to bless our pets who bring so much joy into our lives.
By the power of Your love,
enable them to live according to Your plan.
May we always praise You for all Your beauty in creation.
Blessed are You, God, in all Your creatures!
God is Good!! All the Time!!