Archive for the ‘Animal prayers and blessings’ Category

Everyone Speaks “Dog”

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Last week Baker and I were assigned to visit the hospital’s Neuro-trauma ICU waiting room, where families with loved ones who  have suffered a stroke, or been in a car accident, or have a life-threatening condition requiring intensive care pass the hours until they are allowed a few moments at bedside. The room is furnished with small groupings of chairs and couches so families  have some privacy as they wait. Most of them sit quietly, gazing at the TV or reading magazines, alone with their thoughts.

It’s hard to know what to say to greet people. Most are surprised to see a dog come into the waiting room, so I begin by explaining that Baker is a therapy dog who is there to visit them if they would like. I’m learning that Baker knows by their smell whether or not they are “dog people” and want to be approached. He’s not shy about sniffing shoes and pant legs as they pat his head.

But it’s not about me making conversation, it’s about Baker making a connection and for a few moments, helping them to forget why they are really there. (more…)

Lessons from a dog, post-9/11

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

The following reflection is from one of my favorite books, Dog Blessings: Poems, Prose, and Prayers Celebrating Our Relationship with Dogs edited by June Cotner (New World Library, 2008). When I re-read this piece recently, I was struck by how timeless and thoughtful it is, ten years later. It speaks to me of the role of dogs as spirit guides, leading us forward through unspeakable tragedy and loss, while reaffirming hope in the future. (more…)

Life Lessons from a Therapy Dog

Monday, July 4th, 2011


Haley, a long-time therapy dog with Paws with a Purpose (now known as Paws on a Mission) recently passed away. Haley spread joy and comfort right up until the end, continuing to make therapy dog visits during what would be the last week of her life. The following tribute written by her owner, Ken, contains an important lesson.


Ever since she was a puppy, Haley loved toast and she loved peanut butter. In fact, she would eat ANYTHING with peanut butter on it! Every time the toaster was set on the kitchen counter top, Haley would strategically position herself to be certain to receive the corner piece of toast to which she felt she was entitled. Haley would get one corner and her sister Sam would be tossed another – rarely would the ‘girls’ actually catch the pieces but they’d certainly scramble like mad to clean them off the floor. Even when Haley lost her sense of hearing, she seemed to sense when that toaster came out and she’d be sure to be there, drooling like a starving hound, waiting for that tiny, precious, single corner of toast. (more…)

A Prayer of Thankfulness for Animals

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Today is the anniversary of my springer Chester’s death, on November 20, 1997. He passed away gently in his sleep, after ten wonderful years together. That Thanksgiving was very sad. After all this time I still think of him often, but now I smile at the memories. During this week of Thanksgiving, I am especially grateful for the dogs I have known and loved. The wonderful book Animal Blessings: Prayers and Poems Celebrating Our Pets by June Cotner, contains the following meditation on thankfulness:

The Love They Give Us

by Kent C. Greenough

Not only is there always another good animal in need of a good home, but we must remember to be thankful for the time and love our animals give us while they are here. Take time to enjoy them and learn from them. As painful as it is to lose them, they teach us to love unselfishly, they teach us to live each day to the fullest, they teach us how to grow old gracefully, and they teach us how to die with dignity. We do them a disrespect to focus only on the sorrow of their death when they have given us so much joy through their life. If we wish to honor them, take what they have given us, all that love, and give it back to another animal in need of help.

As we begin this holiday season, remember and honor the animals that bless our lives, and especially those who need a home.

Positive Thinking-a lesson from Mayo

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

This week I am at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fl at a conference on using social media in hospitals and health care. Aside from this blog, I am woefully behind in the social media world. People in the audience are actually tweeting about the conference live! It is certainly transforming communication, but yesterday morning I overheard a simple, face-to-face communication that touched my heart. (more…)

A Church Service for Dogs

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

I’ve written before about a very moving Blessing of the Animals service that Alex and I participated in. Now, Calvary Church in Danvers, Massachusetts has started Perfect Paws Pet Ministry, a half-hour service for people and their dogs on the third Sunday of each month. The service includes Communion,blessings, and dog biscuits for the dogs at the end of the service. The service also includes prayers for animals who are ill, and for those who are deceased. (more…)

“The Love They Give Us”

Monday, March 29th, 2010

I have a friend who is struggling with the loss of her beloved dog. She wants to adopt another dog, but she is afraid that it’s too soon, that she is being disloyal or dishonoring to the dog she lost.  A veterinarian I know said once, “I encourage my clients to adopt again as soon as possible. The love has to go somewhere.” How true! The following  reflection echos the same sentiment. It is by Kent C. Greenough, from the wonderful book Animal Blessings: Prayers and Poems Celebrating Our Pets, edited by June Cotner (reprinted by permission). (more…)

Animal Blessings – Recommended gift book!

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

If you are looking for a lovely holiday gift for the animal lovers on your list, I recommend Animal Blessings: Prayers and Poems Celebrating Our Pets by June Cotner (HarperCollins, 2000).animal-blessings1 I discovered Ms. Cotner’s lovely series of books with her more recently published Dog Blessings. Animal Blessings includes  writings about all types of animals, from dogs, cats, and horses to wildlife including birds, deer, dolphins, and other wild creatures. (more…)

Blessing of the Animals

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

This past Sunday, Alex and I participated in a Blessing of the Animals service at my church. It was a joyful and moving moment as each pet approached the altar to receive the minister’s blessing. The procession included golden retrievers, border collies, an English Shepherd, a westie in a jaunty orange bandanna, a PBGV, and of course Alex the Welsh Springer. A hamster and a cat also received the blessing.

A Border Collie receives the minister's blessing

A Border Collie receives the minister's blessing

The animals seemed to sense that this was a special moment, and all were quiet and well-behaved as the minister made the sign of the cross on each forehead. After all the animals had been blessed,  a woman come forward with a photo of her pet. She joined hands with the minister, and they bowed their heads in prayer, perhaps for a beloved pet who had passed on, or was too infirm to attend. I left filled with thankfulness for the blessings that pets bestow on us each day of their lives.

Walk with an Old Dog – a poem for pet loss

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

A few years ago, my veterinarian began taking a digital photo of each patient. The photo became part of the pet’s record, printing out on the bills and progress reports during our all-too-frequent vet visits during Emily’s last years. Emily was camera-shy, and the photo is a bit blurry as Emily turned her head away. As a final thoughtful gesture after Emily died, the vet mailed me a laminated keepsake of Emily’s photo, along with a comforting poem.

Emily's pet memorial from her caring vet

Emily's pet memorial from her caring vet

The poem, authored by Gayl Jokiel, reads as follows: (more…)

Dog Poem of the Week

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Following the loss of Byron in 2007, I began a morning ritual to connect with his spirit. Standing on my back porch, I could see the Dog Star Sirius in the early morning sky. I would take a few moments in the quiet of the dawn to look up at the star and remember him. I had a strong feeling he was watching over me, and this simple ritual was comforting.

Byron, age 14

Byron, age 14

As if he was answering me back, I began to notice star motifs appearing everywhere. Digging around in a cupboard in the garage, I pulled out an extra dog dish to take to the cabin. It was a handmade pottery dish, with a star motif. I had completely forgotten I had this dish. The circle seemed complete when little Alex was born with a small white mark on his back like a shooting star. I still look up at the stars, and think of all my beloved dogs. Browsing through my dog poetry collection, I came across this poem. (more…)

Dog Blessings – recommended book!

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Following the loss of Marmaduke and Molly, I embarked on a project to compile poems and tributes to dogs that had died. I found them in out of print books and out of the way places. Most of the tributes that were ultimately published in Angel Pawprints; Reflections on Loving and Losing a Canine Companion were written in the early 1900s, although I included a few contemporary poems as well. Through this project I became a collector of antiquarian dog books, vintage photos of dogs, and quotes about dogs. I never tire of reading about dogs and the countless ways in which they enrich our lives. Thus, I was delighted to find this treasure, a new book called Dog Blessings; Poems, Prose, and Prayers Celebrating Our Relationship with Dogs, edited by June (more…)

A Mother’s Day Wish for All Creatures

Friday, May 8th, 2009

My neighborhood has a small pond, which has become home to pairs of wild ducks and Canada geese. Every spring, I delight in watching as baby ducklings and goslings appear. I see them swimming in perfect formation behind their parents, or poking around on the grassy banks, or resting at the pond’s edge. The parents hover by protectively, ready to herd the babies into the safety of the water as we walk by. Alex loves to stop and watch the geese, but he keeps his distance. (more…)