Assistant Dean of Students and Mom of Ion, Marist’s service dog in training
373 days ago, I picked up an 11 pound puppy at the Atlanta airport. He was soft and snuggly and very, very hungry. Not much has changed in that regard. This morning, I’d like to share with you a few lessons about life and faith that Ion has taught me over the course of our year together.
Greet everyone with enthusiasm. Let me always strive to be the person my dog thinks I am, even if that level of awesomeness is completely unattainable. Amazingly, God’s love for each and every one of us is even greater than the love a dog has for his people.
Get plenty of rest. Remember to get a good night’s sleep and take time to rest during the day.
Play is good. So is fresh air, lots of water, and long walks. I am blessed by Ion’s persistence to drag me off the couch and outside for regular exercise, because he deserves it and I could use it myself. May God grant him the drive to chase a ball when it’s thrown instead of watching it bounce away and looking at me to fetch it. But don’t forget to stretch when you get up.
Enjoy the journey. Every time we get in the car, Ion nudges my shoulder to roll the windows down. He loves to stick his head out the window, smell the fresh air, and feel the wind in his face. May God grant us the awareness to enjoy the moment. The Gospel of Matthew reminds us: Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. So, enjoy the the journey of today.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent and listen, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.
Have hope. Ion has never received a scrap of food from the table, but that doesn’t stop him from staring at me while I’m eating. Ion has hope in receiving treats that should mirror our own hope for eternal happiness and union with God.
Be quick to forgive. Ion never holds a grudge even if I step on his tail when he stands under my feet in the kitchen, limit the number of treats he gets, or make him wear a holiday costume for a few quick photos. May we forgive others as quickly as our dogs forgive us.
Can you imagine what a better place the world would be if we treated everyone with the same love, kindness, and joy that we share with Ion each day?
Let us pray:
Dear God, I give you thanks for creating all of the peoples;
Two legged, four legged, winged and finned.
May I learn the great lessons from each of these…
From the Cat, let me learn healing, clarity, and keen vision.
From the Bird, let me learn how to let my spirit soar.
From the Fish, let me learn tenacity and to overcome obstacles.
From the Horse, let me learn strength and freedom.
And from the Dog, let me learn faithfulness, courage,
and unconditional love.
May I walk, swim and fly in harmony and balance with all of these.
In your infinite wisdom, Lord God, when you created the universe you blessed us with all living creatures. We especially thank you for giving us pets who are our friends and who bring us so much joy in life. Their presence very often helps us get through trying times. Kindly bless Ion and all our pets. May they continue giving us joy and remind us of your power.
May we realize that as our pets trust us to take care of them, so we should trust you, God, to take care of us, and in taking care of them we share in Your love for all Your creatures. Enlighten our minds to preserve all endangered species so that we may continue to appreciate all Your creation. Grant this to Christ our Lord, Amen.