I’ve always been an animal lover. I grew up in a rural area; the kind of place where animals became naturally part of your life, They sort of wandered in, took up residence and ended up part of the family. In my day there were several cats, dogs, goats, horses, cows; even those bats that seemed to live in every eave and roof.
We were thrilled as children when Dad brought us to buy our first arranged pet, a dog. His name was Sandy and as canines go, he was a beauty. Strong, muscular, gleaming golden coat, shiny eyed. He was also, by almost his own admission, as dumb as a bag of hammers. He was though, so much fun and very loving. The things he got up to? Where do I start. We had a heritage gooseberry bush. Lovingly tended to through the generations. Sandy destroyed it on one day, when he ate every last gooseberry off the bush, it never produced again. We had a pathway to the lawn, surrounded by two narrow pillars, and try as he might, Sandy could not get through those pillars with that 6 foot stick he used to carry around. That pink, very expensive, designer blouse, my Mam hung out on the line which caused so much consternation when it went missing? Mam, I have a confession and a throbbing secret, I found it grey and hardened by age at the bottom of the garden in 1993, (We are still good, right?). Yep. Sandy was the culprit.
As dumb as Sandy was, he was intelligent in his loyalty. Every Friday evening he would wait by the bus stop in Kilfinane for me to return from UL. Granny was amazed how he trotted up every Friday at 6pm to greet me, I remember, even in his old age, that big goofy Labrador smile; first thing I would see on disembarking that rickety old 5 pm bus from Limerick. He loved our beloved neighbour Hannie, with a devotion that almost bordered on fanatical. Every weekday, even in the arthritic days, he would heave that old pile of bones up and head down to Hannies for the afternoon. He would also accompany her to and wait for her outside the local pub and walk her home. Yes, Sandy; dumb as a bag of hammers but loyal to a fault.
The girls were hassling me for a dog for years. In one of those ” feck it, nothing to lose moments” I gave in. And so Harley arrived. A shy, gentle, wee dog, it took him a few weeks to settle in. And then they hassled me some more and suddenly, before I could take a breath, Minnie arrived. Confident, bubbly, agile. They both drive me insane. The house is upside down since they arrived. Nothing within chewing distance is safe. Nothing.
The other night, after the two dogs destroyed and pulled every last toilet roll around the house, not to mention the entire contents of the underwear drawer (had we really so many toilet rolls, knickers and bras in the house, I never knew??), I’ll be honest I was fit to re home them. But then something happened. A moment of stillness, a gap in the chaos. I was upset over something, crying. It happens. And in this blank and despairing space, Harley, the quiet one, jumped in my lap. And he snuggled in with those big, brown, liquid eyes, looked up at me, gave me the paw as if to say “it’s going to be ok”. He would not leave my side for hours. And then I realised. These are the most sacred creatures. Sent to us to remind us of divinity. Life seems terrifyingly fast and scary lately………..
How we need to be reminded of divinity, now and then.
To sacred pets everywhere,
Til next time