dogs & God.

I’ve been in a huge fog for the past 2 weeks.  We came home on Good Friday from a fun spring break adventure to Melbourne, Australia (for 48 hours!) to the news that our beloved yellow lab, Sadie, was very sick. She was on medication for a few days, and we had hope that maybe she was going to rebound. Then, a few days later we got the results of her ultrasound and the news was very, very bad. We spent one last 24 hours with her and made it one of her most-loved days of her life.

Saying goodbye has been one of the hardest things we’ve ever done together.

The hole in our house is so huge, her absence so loud, her presence so missed.

The empty bed.

The crumbs that actually still remain on the floor.

The loneliness when we walk in the door.

Her twin brother (who lives next door and has been with her every day of her almost 11 year old life) wandering aimlessly through our house wondering where she is.

Going on a walk without her wagging tail and happy smile.

Dog people know that there’s something about dogs that is so deeply spiritual.

They are a beautiful, tangible, real reflection of God.

Sadie was a reflection of God.

Unconditional love.

Faithful presence.

Overflowing grace.

Sweet friendship.

Deep connection.

Unconditional love.

Unconditional love.

Unconditional love.

Sadie was also my faith shift healing dog. We got her a few months before my free fall out of megachurch and into the landslide of an Unraveling faith. I would sometimes sit for hours during that season just crying on the floor, and she’s be right beside me. Looking at me with love, her eyes understanding, not moving until I moved. And oh how during that season unconditional love is what I needed to learn the most.

That no matter what I believed or didn’t believed, did or didn’t do, said or didn’t say, God still loved me. God was still with me

No matter what.

We talk a lot about the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude, prayer, and service and don’t talk very often about the spiritual discipline of Dogging.  I like to make up new words all the time, so here’s another one to add to the Kathy’s Lexicon of Made-Up Words and Phrases– The Spiritual Discipline of Dogging.

Honestly, we need more of this one!

In a world (and often church) that has cultivated such brokenness, division, and such a distorted image of God, dogs have so much to teach us about God.

I know this post isn’t for everyone. If you’re a cat person you might be rolling your eyes, ha ha.

But for those of you out there who get the dog thing, thanks for listening.

I miss my dog. And I’m grateful for all she taught me about God.

I’ll end with this beautiful piece (and book, I give it as a present now and then), by the awesome Wendy Francisco:

“I can’t match their love for me…”

Some friends also gave me the book, Dog Songs, by Mary Oliver and oh, there are some gems in there, too.

Have a good weekend. Look forward to being back here next week.

peace, kathy

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Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


  • Such a similar situation to mine with my dog. My parents got a dog a few months into my freshman year at (private, Christian) college. That year was the first time my faith fell apart and that dog quickly became “my” dog – for many of the same reasons you mention. She died seven years ago. I still have her tags on my keychain and have a tattoo in her memory. We have other dogs, wonderful dogs, but she was the one who was there when I needed unconditional love and no words. I am so sorry about your Sadie.

  • Just now reading this. Oh I so feel your pain. We almost lost our black lab in November, she will be 13 next week and hasn’t been the same since. I dread the day. I really do. she has been my constant companion and our 9 yr old yellow lab will be lost without her. I am so sorry for your loss. Pets are really part of our families. Thankful that God gave us animals to love and who love us (especially our pups) unconditionally.

    • thanks, missy. you totally get it. yeah, it’s so hard for her brother. he comes in and plops on her bed and just misses her so much. makes us cry every time…

  • I’m so sorry about the loss of your beloved dog. I can’t imagine losing my Thor (even though he’s a cat). I think that if dogs reflect a bit of God’s attitude towards us, cats probably reflect a bit of our attitude towards God. (Willful, stubborn little creatures who sometimes freak out when God is around, sometimes hide from him, and sometimes just want to curl up and rest in his presence because he loves us even though we shredded his furniture.)


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