This I Believe

Carol - Chattanooga, Tennessee
Entered on February 12, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

Dog is God Spelled Backwards

People talk a lot about belief these days. Being mostly a pragmatist I am usually in no hurry to contemplate the state of my soul. When pressed, I will say I have no answers, and that is the simple truth. If I must contemplate a deity I like to think of dogs. Why else is dog God spelled backwards?

I believe we can learn from dogs.

Dogs show us joy. Turbodog and Grendel are companionably comatose on the floor. I‘ve been typing at my computer for hours. I’m dazed with writing. The dog drawer beckons. I move stealthily from the chair, playing a game my dogs adore. They raise their heavy heads, observing as I approach the drawer. My hand touches the knob. They are both on alert now and by my side in an instant; dancing, moaning, quivering. I barely am able to extricate leashes without being toppled in the excitement: WE are going for a WALK.

Dogs teach us the call of the wild, about our bond with the universe. Are dogs capable of art? I don’t know, but I wish you could hear my dogs howl. It is a chorus of mysticism and majesty.

Dogs demonstrate beauty in the mundane. Please don’t cringe: But have you ever noticed a dog taking a dump? It is a ballet of balance; of quivering stick legs, arched back, erect tail, and placid expression.

Dogs offer the comfort of the pack. Years ago, my father was seriously ill. From the sickbed, my dog Moosehead and my father would watch endless hours of Matlock and Rockford. Moosehead was asleep on a fuzzy, burnt-orange afghan beside my dad when he died on a clear transcendent October night.

Last night I didn’t sleep. I had my usual menopausally induced awaking at 3AM, mind racing, full of anxieties: Global warming, religious wars, work, our never ending home renovation, will I quit being a fool? My favorite calming thoughts are of my dogs. I bury my face in Turbo’s fur sniffing her comforting milk-toast smell. The sound of dogs breathing is soothing. I contemplate my dogs grunting and sighing and my mind finally, also, sighs and rests.

I believe in uncertainty when it comes to matters of existence. On the other hand, where I live, Christianity is pervasive and assured. Because of my beliefs, sometimes I feel that I exist in a parallel universe that has somehow bled through to one that I don’t get and where I am only amorphously seen. My impression is that dogs don’t care about theology. What they do care about is: Are you kind? Will you feed me? Will you play with me? Will you scratch me? Will you nap with me?

It is fashionable to say God is a she. It makes me smile to think of God as a dog. If God were a dog, I believe she would teach us of joy, wildness, beauty in the mundane, and comfort of the pack.