St Francis of Assisi, the popular Italian patron Saint of Animals, once referred to God’s marvelous creatures as “our beloved lesser brothers…”
I thought it was a marvelous notion, and a tip of the hat to the fact although they may not in some ways possess the cognitive abilities of man- they are sentient beings deserving of our love.
Frequently referenced in scripture, Christ himself rode a donkey into Jerusalem, doves of life and peace showed Noah the way, and someday the lion will lie down with the lamb.
They provide company to humans and unrequited affections.
They are our friends, our family, our assistants, even many times even our eyes and ears.
We are their stewards, and we can usually all provide some warm stories and anectodes to share glimpses of how they have entered into our lives.
In my case- it was via my usual introduction to my tiny beastly buddy, George the Chihuahua. Other then having a cat as a little boy- I had never really owned a pet as an adult.
In any event, I must’ve been out of my mind, as Georgy had dropped into my world quite unexpectedly. I can clearly remember the day that my Florida friend Diana informed me that I “needed “ a dog. I had undergone some very serious health issues only months before and she thought it would be of help.
She begged me to adopt her blue Chihuahua, innocuously named Georgy. I instinctively recoiled.
I was highly suspicious as to why Diana wanted to give me her Chihuahua, but I hesitantly said “yes”. That is when I started questioning my sanity.
I clearly remember the day she brought Georgy’s little carrying case to my condo, opened its door slowly and this rat-like creature with eyes bigger than its head, stepped out, and nonchalantly stretched and yawned as if it owned the place. I didn’t even know if it was a canine.
On that beguiling day, Diana spoke to Georgy as she sheepishly pointed to me and said “ this is your brand new Daddy ”. I glared at her for the presumptuous statement and I assured her that this creature was no progeny of mine.
Georgy and I eventually bonded and In the mornings I would greet him by saying “Hey there Georgy Boy”, similar to the British tune of a similar title.
He would sit on his favorite beige pillow and hold court all day till something or somebody got his attention. At first, his quite ordinary name rang hollow to me.
Being Italian, I was hoping to have had a pet for which I could someday provide a name with a wordly tone such as “Vinny” or “Pagliaccio”from the opera of that name, but it didn’t seem natural to change his name, so I was “stuck with “Georgy”….in more ways than one.
I surprisingly found Georgy to be exceptionally playful, friendly, and had an uncanny penchant for playing fetch. He especially loved his little Elmo toy, and jumped triumphantly when capturing and conquering the wiry red celebrity from Sesame Street.
Georgy was originally not a yappy kind of chihuahua-but I soon learned that there were times when those 4.2 lbs could become a holy terror. The Door bell soon became the very bane of my existence
To Georgy, every doorbell, every swishing sound, every insect, and any person at the door – was the clarion call for the Apocalypse which had just come.
It was a constant cacophony of canine sounds in my condo. He was indeed a miniature nemesis (in his own mind) to all things which moved, or crawled. He protected OUR home.
I had purchased the book “Chihuahuas for Dummies” on ebay in order to be a better owner to Georgy. One section mentioned the fact that the Chihuahua, compared to all other canines, had the largest head and brain -to -body ratio.
I pridefully relished in the fact that my dog might be a genius, as exhibited by his clever little ploys.
Georgy liked to play games, strategic little escapades. They were calculated efforts which left me baffled in being hoodwinked by a few pounds of fur .
While I was eating, Georgy would somehow misdirect me from my dinner and rapidly finish my plate for me. It left me astonished, and quite often hungry.
It was like Lucy with Charlie Brown’s football- I fell for his pranks repeatedly.
I’ve grown to love Georgie, as he can be a pain as much as a delight. In the mornings his pure delight of life, at waking up, at jumping and chasing, was life affirming and prompted me to my daily prayers.
Animals are indeed very life-affirming. I have always liked cats as well as a French author once noted that “God Created the cat in order for man to enjoy the pleasure of caressing the lion.”
An interesting analogy as perhaps the canine, likewise, provides people the edifying opportunity to befriend the wolf.
All In all, i’m glad to have Georgy in my corner of the world, but the more I contemplate it, I’m pretty sure God did not own a doorbell when he invented the Chihuahua.
So, next time ya cuddle up with your kitty, or walk Fido- or stroke your canary, whisper a prayer of thanks…
Thanks to God, and to St Francis for the existence and appreciation of our “lesser” -but no less important fellow brethren, his amazing creatures.
You can follow MichaelAngelo Massa and further of his popular “Sacred Inspiration 2.0” series here on Patheos.com