The other day, Buddy, Peter’s dog, died. It was not expected. Peter is our church’s music director. Because our services are virtual, we always watch Peter play from his home, Buddy at the corner of the screen watching Peter. Buddy had become, in many ways, the congregation’s dog.
I bring this sadness because of hearing time and time again how important people’s dogs have been to them during the pandemic.
And they don’t know.
Monday afternoon we went downtown with our dog, Vivi. Our daughter was maintaining the ceramist Jeff Blandford’s magical shop. (Is there a ceramist the likes of Jeff? Do go to his shop in Saugatuck.)
The town was all but completely masked, a relieving and hopeful sight. And everyone who saw Vivi wanted to bend down and pet her, talk to her.
Hers is one of the only breeds that in the dog books is described as “kind.” And many said just that: “She seems so kind.”
And then the subject that invariably came up was “We can’t imagine getting through all this without our Benjy, Jojo, Glory, Searcher.”
Every day dogs keep us at our routine. Vivi woofing ever so gently at 6:45—time for breakfast. They keep us walking. They keep us calling for them when they sneak off. They let us scratch and pet them for hours. They curl up with us, a comfort as we endure the news from the only purposefully dangerous president we’ve ever had.
And so, Buddy, thank you. Thanks be to every loving dog who simply and not so simply is always there, devoted, without taking any credit—well maybe a biscuit—for helping us each through each difficult day.
Putting Down Our Dogs
We let the vet
on the last place
they will smell.
Do they see
in our eyes?
Then our palms
along their backs.
from Saint Peter and the Goldfinch, Wayne State University Press
On August 4, Matthew Baker’s new book, Why Visit America? Henry Holt & Co., comes out. It has already received exceptional reviews, and Matt has offered remarkably insightful interviews. Esquire Magazine has called it one of the twenty must-read books published this summer.
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