Fenway

It happens every day.
After work, I walk in the door, and she starts to prance and paw
gazing with hopeful light in her brown eyes, asking for it to
HAPPEN. NOW. PLEASE?

If it doesn’t HAPPEN. NOW. PLEASE? and I have to tell her, “Later, it is coming later”
her flickering eyes smolder, her shoulders hunch, and she flops morosely on her bed as if it were the end of her life. She will mope vigorously until it is her time for a walk.

This is Fenway’s daily routine. She is one of three canines in my family, and the eldest. She came to us eight and half years ago, deathly sick with heartworms, would only eat food scraps, and was terrified of a leash. We don’t know how old she is, because we thought she was seven when we got her. The point being, she has always *been* old to us, along with a very serious temperament (except for her acquired joy over afternoon promenades).

Fenway smelling, carefully

The thing is, the happy dance seems to sap her of all get and up and go energy, so walking Fenway takes incredible patience. She is slow, oh so, so slow, in part, because of her age. In addition, Fenway is also very deliberate and indiscriminate in her stopping to “smell the roses”, except in a dog’s case, roses are fire hydrants and tree trunks and fence lines and bushes and discarded trash and stray baby toys that have fallen from strollers. Finally, Fenway is also a little bit stubborn, meaning that she is not going to move away from some glorious stink just because I shake her leash to hurry up.

We had to stop walking Fenway with the other pack members last fall, because it got complicated between her sedate stride and the urgent pulling of our other over-stimulated and excitable dogs. We would end up dragging Fenway, or be dragged by the other two. It wasn’t fair to our pokey matriarch. However, as I said before, at the end of a long day, it can be excruciating to escort the slowest and stubbornest dog down the block for her walk.

And yet, one day, as we were inching around the neighborhood, I realized what a gift Fenway was giving me. I just happened to look down at her as she was inhaling the juiciness of a recently “marked” hedgerow. She was nudging through the leaves, inspecting them thoroughly, and the contentment in her eyes of being able to go her own pace, stopping when she wanted broke my heart open. “Let this being, this old one lead you” my mind begged. “Let her spirit slow you down so you can be with the roses, too.”

Now, I look forward to our afternoon ploddings. I get home, and watch her prancing and pawing, and as I hook up her leash, I feel my spirit settle and join with hers, as we move, step by step into the present moments of being. I am so grateful for Fenway, reminding me daily, to slow down and just be,
be one with mind, body, spirit, soul,
and most importantly, with
God and Dog.


Karla Miller is a United Church of Christ Pastor who knows the truth about cats and dogs, as she and her spouse, Liz, have opened their home to many rescues. She lives in a Boston suburb and loves the Red Sox. Karla blogs at do. love. walk. and is among the contributors to the RevGals book, There’s a Woman in the Pulpit (SkyLight Paths).


Want to read earlier posts our summer series on spiritual practices/disciplines? Find them at these links: Sewing, by T. Denise Anderson; Never on Pointe, by Mary Beene; Photography, by Catherine MacDonald; Pinteresting, by Amy Fetterman; Walking, by Robin Craig; Summer Sabbath Shift, by Sarah F. Erickson; and Routines of the House, by Elizabeth Hagan.


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7 thoughts on “Our Spiritual Disciplines: God and Dog

  1. I love this. My dog is going on 13, and we walk briskly most mornings. I find myself letting her set the pace, lingering longer over a smell or a joyful roll on some desirable plot of grass. It opens my eyes and heart too, and I appreciate the way you put it into words.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just had to say farewell to my beloved bullmastiff two weeks ago today…So this was a blessing to read, but also hard. Loved those walks with her! She made me notice the hidden things.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My Fenway is a nut – 10 month old “reactive” Golden. But I have an old man, too, who let me know (by pooping in the house) that just letting him out the back door a few times a day was not acceptable, he wanted a walk too. So as I am rushing around in the morning, and when I really just want to go to bed at night, Dunstan and I amble slowly down the stairs (he falls down a few of them due to his neuropathy) and we slowly cruise down a couple houses. He has a hosta that he likes to sniff. He does his business. And we slowly walk home. He barely makes it up the stairs, and goes to his bed on the first floor since he can no longer make it to my bedroom on the third. I wish him good night, and go up to bed and Fenway, already in his crate, saving his energy so he can burst out in the morning, attack the cats, jump on Dunstan, and bring his crazy joy. Thanks for this reminder of why both the crazy joy and sedate joy are important.

    Liked by 1 person

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