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Posted Sunday, August 28, 2011, at 7:46 PM


By Rayla Stewart Hogue

Special to the Daily Statesman

The knock at the door brought her to her feet. She went to the door in silence prepared for friend or foe. She didn't know them, but her mother let them in the house. She moved to place herself between her mother and the others as her mom reached down and gently caressed her head.

They all went into the family room and took seats. She looked them over--judging them to be safe. Her mom continued stroking her head and told her it was all right. She walked over to them and sniffed. They seemed to be no threat.

One of the people reached out a hand to her. She sniffed the hand and allowed herself to be touched; then moved over to her mother and sat beside her. Her mom absently played with her ears; smoothing her fur.

They were together most of the time. She would rest beside her mother's chair, follow her to the kitchen, sleep beside her bed (or on the bed when she could), and accompany her almost everywhere. Even when mom traveled, she went along. If just the two of them were going then she would ride in the passenger seat or on the floor just behind mom with her head resting on the console so that her mom could reach her with virtually no effort.

Mom had been sad a great deal lately, so she stuck very close to her--rarely more than a few steps away. She did her best to be a faithful companion--meeting mom's needs, comforting her, sharing her joys, and at times offering comic relief--like when her pesky little brother made a flying leap and landed with a solid four pawed landing right on her side as she slept. That was a rude awakening that ended with her chasing him through the house until he sought refuge in his boy's arms, telling him that she had started it. She had been minding her own business. She was sleeping peacefully until he came along and pounced on her. The little brat thinks he can get away with anything--seducing everyone with those big, blue eyes . . . .

However, I also have my ways. I sit beside mom and look at her with my huge, brown eyes, with my brow furrowed in lines of concern. Or I will reach out with one paw, just to touch mom. She almost always melts when I curl into her back so that my body heat melts the pain away. Of course, when it storms outside I tend to stay as close to mom as possible--I don't like storms and if I could crawl into her skin I think I would. Secretly, mom dislikes storms too, so I'm really just comforting her.

My purpose in life is simple . . . to protect mom . . . comfort her . . . entertain her . . . quiet her . . . excite her . . . and ultimately to provide for her whatever she needs. I am her companion in all of life's drama. Mom tells me that others may call me a dog, but she doesn't see me that way. She says I'm very special in that I reflect God. D-o-g and G-o-d. Dog is a reflection of God. It's a big job, but I love mom unconditionally and she says that makes all the difference.

God, we thank you for being our constant companion. You are with us whether we choose to acknowledge your presence or not. When we are tired, lonely, defeated, or scared you are with us, loving us, wrapping us in your arms of love. You share our good times and rejoice with us. You stay with us even when we deny or ignore you. Thank you for being our companion and for giving us a reflection of yourself through your creation--dog. So be it. Amen.

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From My Heart to Yours
Rayla Stewart Hogue
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Rayla Stewart Hogue is a native of Dexter. She is a wife, mother, and minister of the UCC (United Church of Christ). She seeks to recognize and embrace the unending hues of God's ethne and religion, and commits herself to living and expressing this inclusive diversity through Sacrament and the spoken, written, and sung Word of God.
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