Editor’s Note: The DC Service Corps class of 2019 – 2020 introduces themselves through personal reflection on what matters most to them. 

The dog days of summer have come to an end, but the significance of dogs in my life does not waiver. When I was younger, I was extremely shy so to help with this my parents enrolled me in speech therapy. My favorite part about going was that my speech therapist, Mrs. Austin, would bring along her labrador retriever Rosey. 

Rosey provided me with love, comfort, and a sense of belonging. My encounters with Rosey planted in me a deep love for dogs. This love grew when I attended Loyola University Chicago and neighborhood dogs would stroll through campus on their walks. Bella, a newfoundland, and her human companions Patrick and Susan became beloved friends of mine. They gave me the same support and sense of belonging Rosey once did. 

Also at Loyola, the foundation of my faith became rooted in Ignatian Spirituality, the spiritual practices and beliefs of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Finding God in all things is an idea encompassed in Ignatian Spirituality that entails finding the presence of God in any person, place, or thing. Through Bella, and dogs in general, I experience the love of God. The type of love that makes me feel known. The unconditional affection, joyful demeaner, and adventurous spirit within dogs, allows me to see the world differently, through a lens of love. 

Dogs also bring people together, teaching us how the importance of community. Dogs break that individualistic barrier that has been imbedded in society and encourage us to encounter those around us. They remind us that as people we flourish in community. Rosey and Bella both allowed me to overcome my shyness to find God in the joy of community. 

One of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, captures the loveliness of dogs in her poem, The Sweetness of Dogs:

“What do you say, Percy? I am thinking
of sitting out on the sand to watch
the moon rise. It’s full tonight.
So we go

and the moon rises, so beautiful it
makes me shudder, makes me think about
time and space, makes me take
measure of myself: one iota
pondering heaven. Thus we sit, myself

thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s
perfect beauty and also, oh! how rich
it is to love the world. Percy, meanwhile,
leans against me and gazes up
into my face. As though I were just as wonderful
as the perfect moon.”

I imagine God gazing upon us as dogs do, through the lens of love. 

Reflection Question: Where do you find God?

Hannah Puvalowski

Programs Associate at Franciscan Mission Service Headquarters