Things My Dog Has Taught Me

The monastery dog in helpful mood
Bro Duncan PBGV being ‘helpful’

Bro Duncan PBGV is not actually my dog, but we’ll let that pass. In the years he has lived with us he has taught me to

  • be very ‘helpful’ at all times
  • eat everything in sight and whatever can be accessed out of sight
  • treat everyone as my very best friend (vets excepted)
  • regard every day as a new adventure
  • be myself.

Of these five things, the most important is the last. Being oneself, being honest about one’s strengths and weaknesses, acting in accordance with one’s nature, does not mean carte blanche to do anything one likes, but it does mean there should be no pretended virtue, no hypocrisy. To live truthfully is not easy, but it makes for joy and happiness. I envy Bro Duncan’s uncomplicated life at times, but although my life is considerably more complicated, it can still have the same joyful quality. Monastic life has a way of peeling off layer after layer of the self we construct and eventually revealing the person God made. That is why, if you will allow me an atrocious pun, sheer doggedness is needed. It is the work of a lifetime.