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St Barts Blog

The Spirituality of Dogs

by The Rev. William Zettinger on May 14, 2020

Dogs are spiritual beings. Their free-spirited energy is pure and divine. They love and accept us unconditionally. Because of this, they have a direct connection to the spirit. If we let them, they can be our spiritual teachers and healers. Our life’s path and purpose can and often becomes entwined with them.

Dogs are full of wisdom and are always ready to teach us lessons. I started discovering my spiritual path with dogs in 1969 through Sherman (a German Shepard), then there was Puff, Molly, Toby, Kisha (a Scotty), and Teddy (a West Highland White Terrier).

I’ve gotten the most out of my relationship with them by viewing them as my equals. Because I’ve been open to their teachings and lessons, they have guided me, taught me, healed me and at times even changed my mind.

They listen to my sermons attentively. I've preached out loud to them in the garage and if they don’t like it, well I start again.
The power dogs have to heal others is astounding. Toby often accompanied Nina to St. Bart's. He would sit at the feet of those who needed a bit of love and pastoral care. Some years ago a cancer patient arrived at the office for a visit. I remember sitting at a table when Toby came over and sat on the parishioner's feet. He simply sat there and connected with the spirit and that person. The parishioner wouldn’t move afraid Toby would abandon her. But he did not, he stayed with her during the entire visit and future visits to the church.
When you start paying attention and remain open to the spiritual connection your dog offers, the more they can share that connection with you. What if we asked each animal what they wanted instead of putting our egos and wants onto them? If we listen, amazing things might happen!
Consider that God put dogs here on this earth to teach us lessons about love, life, loss, grace, and spirituality. If we allow them to show us that love, we can gain a sense of illumination about what we need to learn. If you’re looking for life’s meaning and conviction, your dog may be the means to move you closer to your true purpose.
The journey I’ve been on with our guys and girls is a testament to the incredible life changes that can be experienced when you empower your dog. It gives validation to the notion that all dogs are sentimental creatures who express their gifts differently. Listening to your dog is the key to that empowerment.
When you do, you not only empower your dog, but you empower yourself. Our souls become more accessible to them and deeper powerful spiritual connections are built between us.
We can build a deeper spiritual bond in our relationships with them while enhancing their natural spiritual tendencies, and healing abilities, if we let go of our expectations and accept them for who they are while loving them unconditionally as they love us.
If you permit your dogs to lead the way, if you allow them to communicate, if you listen to them, trust them, respect them and nurture their organic talents, you will learn the important messages your furry best friends want to share with you.
We all know dogs heal. It doesn’t matter if they are therapy dogs, service dogs, working dogs or pet dogs. They heal. But, I believe dogs are on this earth for a much grander purpose than we may ever know. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what they are capable of teaching us.
Dogs are mentioned more than a dozen times in the Bible. St. Francis of Assisi, the 11th century Deacon talked to the animals and even tamed a wolf because he believed they were creatures of God, like us.
And of course, dog is God spelled backward. I wonder is that just a coincidence or not? God made dogs for us to have as companions and helpers and for the immeasurable pleasure and happiness they give us. Perhaps it’s a stretch to think that dogs were also meant to teach us about God’s love. With all that dogs mean to us, is that too much to consider?
There are over 89 million owned dogs in the United States. Thirty-nine percent of American households own at least one dog. Over $45 billion will be spent on pets this year in the United States alone. That’s double the amount of 10 years ago. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 75 percent of dog owners consider their pet as a family member. During this unprecedented time of staying at home, many families have adopted or fostered a dog to help ease the time spent at home.
Obviously, there is something very human about dogs. Is there something very Godlike about us? With all that God created, would it be unreasonable to think that God also made dogs to teach us about his love for us? It seems to me that is something God would do.


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