Merci Grâce

My Mardi Gras mostly happened on Saturday night, when a fellow seminarian and his wife threw a truly awesome empty-out-your-liquor-cabinet party. The actual Tuesday that I had was much weirder, more about mercy and grace than pancakes – hence my horrible attempt at a french pun above.

It started at about 12:02 in the morning, when we were driving back from Monday night D&D, and nearly hit a small fluffy object running in the middle of the road. It late, but I could tell from the moment it was in our headlights that it was a Pomeranian, and it was completely out of its depth. Our roommates in the car behind almost hit it too, since its first near-death experience did communicate to it that it should stay off the asphalt. After some semi-frantic squealing pleas on my part, we turned around. I was careful – I like to think I’m pretty good with dogs – but this one practically leapt into my arms.

He didn’t seem sick; he was super-alert and had a wet nose; we attributed his slightly glassy eyes to being out in the cold. But he did seem like being alone in the middle of the road wasn’t the first of his problems. One nail was curled almost all the way around into his footpad, he was missing a bunch of hair near his bum, and he smelled powerfully of cigarette smoke. But gosh darn it, he was ever so cute.

There are about ten reasons I can’t have a dog. The biggest one is that my landlord would have my guts for garters, and the rest of the reasons are dollar signs. But man… this little poofball made me want to find a way to make it happen. He did pretty well in the mudroom overnight; he stopped yapping after about half an hour, and he didn’t wee in the house even once. The next day, while I was just doing schoolwork and waiting for the shelter to call me back, Mr. Needy-mc-Needypants wanted to be on my lap and actively petted at all times. This wasn’t too bad, because he’s so tiny that he fit on my lap with my laptop. Although now my coat and jeans smell of cigarettes and funky dog.

Finding the shelter was a bit of a saga – you know, the kind that you think will make an epic tale while you’re out there, getting impossibly lost, but that when you’re telling the story to someone else you suddenly realize was not that interesting. I was just glad that I got him there that day, because if I had to keep him another night… I’m not sure I could have let him go. But being a small, popular breed, I’m sure he’ll get adopted quickly. I managed to get a few “found” posters up near where we picked him up, but they were gone this afternoon.

My Ash Wednesday conviction is that I’m more or less a workaholic. Not that I’m afraid of failure, but I’m a bit addicted to the sheer high that comes from accomplishing things. It’s slowly dawned on me how much that’s screwed with my relationships, not least with God.

It’s funny… I can be emotionally distant sometimes, but not with pets. What is it about the anxious neediness of dogs, or the aloof cuddliness of cats, that feels so safe? Maybe the fact that they won’t actually ask me to spill my guts, and while they have some boundary issues, they’re more or less emotionally consistent. Also, petting & feeding count as sufficient investments in our relationship.  That doesn’t quite work for humans, even husbands.

This year, I’m not giving anything up for Lent. My discipline is going to be investing more intentionally in my closest relationships, starting with God. What are you doing for Lent this year?

3 thoughts on “Merci Grâce

  1. Cool beans, dude. And he was really cute. I have some thoughts (theological reflection type thoughts) about attachment to pets, but maybe I will tell you them in person. 🙂


  2. Now you taught me that persistently asking you to spill your guts was a way for a person to show you love. Of course it’s reasonable not to want to all the time. Just let a person know, please, since you ARE hard to read at times! 🙂
    I love Kirby because his “receive love” and “give love” buttons are so easily triggered. And yet at the same time he is almost always willing to turn “off” and just be near.


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