Wednesday, July 12, 2017

I always check

I always check on what people are reading on Under the Castor Oil Tree. I noticed today that several people had read a post from 2010. So I read it. And almost wept. Dogs make me weepy. And Luke, the dog, truly did.

Thought I'd share it with you again.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Luke Plunski--Luke the dog--died today.

He was Michael's dog first...saved Mike's life once and made Mike's life so much finer, brighter, happier. Then, after Michael died Luke became JoAnn's dog, saved her life in a different way, making it possible to move on after her son's death.

I'll never forget how someone with great good sense allowed Luke to be in Michael's hospital room during his last illness--even in Intensive Care. Mike had lost both his legs to his disease and Luke was his legs for him. Mike didn't take up the whole bed, so Luke would lay where Mike's legs should have been had the world been kinder. Sometimes a medical person would come in and be horrified to see a dog in a hospital bed. Luke would just look at them with those endlessly deep brown eyes and most of the time, the person would just melt.

Luke made you melt. He was a Golden Retriever and a beauty of one. How could you resist that look that said--"I'm laying here where I belong, next to my human...."

Luke became a therapy dog after Michael died and brought joy to hundreds and hundreds of people in hospitals and nursing homes. He was never assertive, always patient, always waiting for the human to make the first advance. And as gentle as a spring breeze, as sweet as the smell of honeysuckle, as healing as magic chicken soup.

He always came up to communion with Jo, mostly because he knew his job was to be near her always and he did his job to perfection. And one day, his great head leaning against the altar rail, I simply gave him communion--just a wafer like everyone else. After that, he was my great, good friend. If I'd forget and someone else gave out the bread on that side of the altar rail, I'd glace over and he'd be looking at me with those eyes that made me melt and I'd feel like I'd been rude to the Christ Child...which isn't far from true. Luke was about as Christ-like as any creature I've known.

I suppose some people might have objected to my giving him communion--but I never asked and, most likely, wouldn't have cared. It was only right and proper and in good order.

When Jo and Luke got into the library on Sunday mornings for the adult forum--they were there almost every week for years--he'd want to come greet me. Jo would give him his short little leash which he would carry in his mouth and he'd come to say hello. (He'd also take the chance to roll on the Library rug, but who can blame him for that?) It was one of the highlights of every Sunday, that little lick and rubbing against me.

My grandmother divided the world into two distinct groups "church people" and people who, well, were not 'church people'. I tend to divide the world into 'dog people' and everyone else. Loving a dog is like holding your heart in your hand and feeling it beat for a while. You all know the "DOG"/"GOD" stuff...well, I'm not sure it isn't true.

Lord I will miss him....

Jo held him as he died. I've held dogs as they've died and there is very little more profound and humbling than that. The pain of a dog's death is sharper and cleaner than even the deaths of people you love. I don't know anyone who, when someone they love dies, doesn't have some unfinished business or some guilt or some unanswered questions...mixed up stuff. With a dog, it's just pain. You know they never blamed you for anything, were never disappointed in you, never thought you should change your ways....they simply, purely loved you. Just like you are. Just like that. That's a Dog/God thing--there is no other creature besides a dog who can find that Agape Love, that redemptive Love, that Love that knows no bounds, that love that mimics God's love for each of us.

I weep for Luke tonight...but more for Jo. I know the pain she feels. I've been blessed and privileged and made a better person by the love of dogs....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.