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When Your Best Friend Has Four or So Legs

What it means to have a pet is to
love someone who speaks a language
you do not. A dog will bow and prance,
a cat will purr and blink. A guinea pig
will giggle and squeak. A long time ago
a friend of mine had a dog with soft ears,
and considered herself the pup’s guardian.
A gentle way to think of protecting
and caring for a friend, such a small gesture
of respect for a source of boundless love.
The dog’s long pink tongue lolling in a goofy
grin. The cat convinced that kneading
and grooming are crucial to this day. A bird
asking for a treat, bending a wing to wave.

These are friends. They are loves. It’s
kind of a surprise that you should love
someone so much who would eat the butter
on the table if they could get away with it,
and gets endless hair on the sofa when they
aren’t even supposed to be on the furniture.
When they are called companion animals,
it’s such an open, tender truth. The endless
cuddles and tricks and loyalty. The comfort
of fingers to fur and big, adoring eyes.  
These are friends. They are loves. They
stretch our hearts and fill them with
their abundance of kindness. When they
are gone, our hearts remain larger,
though their absence leaves room
for expanses of grief. Their love
champions and companions us still.

About the Author

Theresa I. Soto

The Rev. Theresa I. Soto is the newly called senior minister of First Unitarian Church of Oakland, California, and the author of Spilling the Light: Meditations on Hope and Resilience (Skinner House, 2019).

For more information contact worshipweb@uua.org.

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