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Local Directory for Ottawa, ON


Blessing of the Animals

We started the day at an estate auction run by a crabby auctioneer, followed by breakfast in a Glebe diner. Over breakfast, GC and I wrote a note to Elmaks, and later we visited his final swap box, which is hanging on the construction fencing on Bank Street, around Third Avenue.

We left the note and a real sunflower in the box, and GC placed a stone on top, which is a Jewish tradition. While we were doing that, RealGrouchy happened along on his bike, so he stopped and also wrote a note to Elmaks and binder-clipped it to the box. We were glad he was there; it felt like an impromptu memorial ceremony since there was more than just us.

Then we went to the Lord Elgin Hotel, where Paul Dewar announced his candidacy for the leadership of the NDP. I ran into all kinds of people I knew there, some of whom I hadn’t seen in years. (We even ran into RealGrouchy again.)

Next we scooted over to the annual Blessing of the Animals ceremony at St. Luke’s Anglican Church. We wanted to bring some of the pets, maybe Duncan and Kazoo, to be blessed, but we were running late, and besides, it was pretty chilly out.

The Blessing was a lovely little gathering. AndrewZRX’s mom and sister Sarah were there, and I saw a daschund named Tofu that I hadn’t seen for five years. There were about a dozen dogs and a few cats, and Father Gregor moved from animal to animal, touching and blessing them all individually, and we sang hymns. Some of the dogs were really old and frail and in need of a good blessing. Father Gregor also did a special blessing for Duncan and the birds and Logan, since they couldn’t be there in person.

Later, we were all invited into the church for snacks and drinks.

We talked to a few people, including a lovely old woman named Norma. She was very interesting. She said she’d had a terrible year during which she’d suffered four major losses, and then her old dog, Susie, died. She had decided years ago, when she got Susie, that this would be her last dog, because of her own advanced age. When Susie died, she was bereft, mourning not just that dog, but all of her losses.

Then one day, about five months ago – it was her son’s birthday, and he had only recently died under tragic circumstances – she went for a very long walk by herself. She was just trying to pass the time and get through that sad and lonely day. She found herself near the Humane Society, heard the dogs barking, and decided to go in, just to look, just to kill some time.

And there was Morley, a Wheaton Terrier, and a relatively small dog. She said she’d always had big dogs, and had scoffed at people with “old lady dogs.”

Morely had spent all ten months of his unhappy life in a little cage in a barn, along with 140 other dogs at a puppy mill. The staff at the Humane Society weren’t even sure if he was adoptable. They said he barked incessantly and was emotionally damaged. He had never seen the sky, never gone for a walk, never been touched.

The adoption worker said “He’s got a lot of problems.”

“So do I,” said Norma, and she adopted him.

Morely gave Norma a reason to live. She had suffered all her life from crippling anxiety and phobias, but she knew how to help Morley develop the confidence he lacked. She had worked with animals all her life. She said you have to acknowledge their fears verbally, but not pick them up and cuddle them every time they’re scared. She was able to devote herself to socializing and healing this sad, scared little dog, since all she had left in her life was time and Morley. They’ve been together for five months now, and he’s a wonderful little dog, and obviously very well loved. She says they were both very, very lucky to find one another.

And now he’s blessed! And so is she!

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