The blood on the chair reminded me of the debacle my Sunday afternoon had become.
"The Blessing of Pets." St. Francis' Day. Also a heavenly warm day in October.
I felt up to it. I had attended a similar service years ago in Dunkirk. Years ago indeed for it must have been with an earlier dog since I remember it as a most pleasant and sociable event. This time I may be run out of my church.
All right truth in advertising: I did NOT expect Minor and Quillow to behave like the angelic dogs I've known them to be. Honest!
Steady readers know Quillow is 9, probably going on 11, and the best behaved and most docile golden retriever there could possibly be. At least since Minor arrived. Quillow in fact gets tired so quickly even sitting tires him so he's usually lying down. I expected sublime relaxation. No problem there. I did think Minor's enthusiasm would get the better of him and knew he was too strong for me. But, help enlisted in advance, off the three of us drove to church.
Well ... Quillow HAS to get in the car first. Minor leaves no room in the back seat. So that's a balancing act to begin with. And Minor, breaking every rule this day, insisted on riding shotgun most of the way into town.
I arrived. I parked. I took Minor to my promised holder who found him too energetic for her as well. A marvelous man took over and all proceeded reasonably with a huge (and very grateful) accent on reasonably.
"Bless the Lord, all you his creatures. And forget not all his benefits."
Then it was Quillow's turn.
Well . . .
Quillow's family history before he moved here last December is pretty much a mystery to me. Now I've guessed he has a problem with cats. And blessing of animals may naturally include cats.
"And God said, 'Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.' And it was so."
Lie down? Sit? Act old? Or tired? Not this Quillow. He was on his feet and pulling at least as strenuously as Minor at his most rambunctious. Worse.
I waited but it became obvious that Quillow had no interest in anything whatsoever except those cats. And, while he happily goes nose-to-nose with the resident cat here, I don't think a friendly hello was at the top of his mind.
Quillow was returned to my car where he promptly settled down and went to sleep unblessed.
The service was lovely and I'm sorry I couldn't concentrate more.
Then the final Amens and time to think of departure. The other dogs had behaved so beautifully. They just stood or sat as if they did this every Sunday afternoon.
I looked around then at the faces of all those I've known and wondered what they must think of me now undomesticated animals, not to mention a new 2 1/4-inch bruise (hey! I want these battle scars recorded!), cuts and filthy shorts and shirt where I ended up on the wet ground. (I have known children as badly behaved and it is a direct reflection on their parents. OF COURSE it is.)
"God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good."
Since Quillow was already in the car, getting Minor in was a cinch. Need I also add a relief? Somehow my dogs know the difference between going and coming and relaxed for a pleasant drive back.
Once home I silently opened one of the packages of dog treats a very thoughtful parishioner had handed out.
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the two dogs gazing into my eyes as they sat perfectly at my feet.
Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org