Yesterday was the feast of Saints Maurus and Placid, and in our community it’s the day when the novices are allowed to run riot (with all due monastic restraint, of course). As we don’t have any novices at present, I generously offered my services and did a bit of tail-chasing and bikkie-scrounging in the hope of catching Them off-guard. It helped that They were distracted by builders. Eventually, I got my opportunity, pinned BigSis to the ground and threatened to lick her to death if she didn’t let me blog today. She gave way easily enough and mumbled something about a little nonsense not hurting anyone and perhaps if readers persevered to the end they’d find a message somewhere. Sooooooo, I thought I’d tell you about my PBGV.
I am often asked what PBGV stands for. It is the name of my breed: Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen. What that means in English is that I am a small(ish), rough-coated hound from the Vendée, the Pays-de-la-Loire region in west-central France. You can read about our aimiable characteristics here and see a photo of my grand-daughter, Jilly, into the bargain.
For much of my monastic life, I was just Bro Duncan, the wise old man stationed by the door of the monastery who welcomed guests and did a quick check for contraband bikkies, etc. I didn’t have any letters after my name. Then the light dawned. Everybody has letters after their names these days! In the name of equality for dogs, therefore, we should, too. I suggested that adding PBGV to Bro Duncan would be quite distinguished and would lead to lots of interesting speculation about which Order I belong to. They were not keen at first and said all sorts of unhelpful things like, ‘You’re a Benedictine dog. We don’t put letters after our names. We leave that to the modern Orders.’ and ‘Don’t you think you’re a tad small to carry such a lengthy addition to your name?’
I was stung. I drew myself up to my full fifteen and a half inches at the shoulder and said, with all the dignity of my breed, that I was being discriminated against. It was my canine right to have letters after my name. I got nowhere. So I changed tactics and started to argue that it would be a delicious joke against humans and the ridiculous things they value — possessions and status and absurdities like that. I kept at it with all the tenacity for which my breed is famous. Then came my crunch argument: God looks at the heart, not the outward show; and although I think He must have had fun when He created me, all whiskers and big ears, I think I please Him best by being loving and kind to all whom I meet. He gave me a good heart, worth infinitely more than any honour or distinction. I am a very doggy dog, a happy hound, I cheer people up. They crumpled at that. They admitted that I am very friendly and treat everyone with the same doggy kindness, so perhaps a PBGV would be justified. Result!
And that, my friends, is how I have been Bro Duncan PBGV ever since.