The Dog Who Helped Parishioners Renew Their Relationship with God

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Mary Elizabeth Martucci, a retired university administrator from South Bend, Indiana, says that parishioners in her childhood church renewed their relationship with God in an unique way when one Sunday, her dog Skippy started attending services.

Mary Elizabeth Martucci, a retired university administrator from South Bend, Indiana, says that parishioners in her childhood church renewed their relationship with God in an unique way when one Sunday, her dog Skippy started attending services. The dog followed the then eight-year-old girl to church, sneaked into the side door, walked down the aisle, lowered himself onto the sanctuary carpet, and observed the service while the congregants watched in awe and amusement. Afterwards, Skippy walked back out the side door.

To Martucci's surprise and relief, the pastor was so impressed with the dog's respectful demeanor that he allowed Skippy to continue attending services. Skippy's close attention to the proceedings prompted parishioners to become more mindful and reverential. Martucci concluded that her dog had reminded everyone that even an animal could honor his Creator in church on Sundays.

Martucci's story is included in the book God's Messengers: What Animals Teach Us about the Divine by Allen and Linda Anderson with endorsements by animal lover, actress Betty White, and The Today Show's Willard Scott (New World Library, October 2003).

Author Allen Anderson says, "Many of the stories in God's Messengers are from people who feel lonely or burdened until an animal comes into their lives at exactly the right time and reminds them that God loves them. My wife Linda and I have always thought that this book would be an inspiration for any animal lover and that clergy members would find it an endless source of uplifting material for sermons and workshops."

Recent scientific findings, reported in God's Messengers, show that a people with companion animals tend to have lower blood pressure, less stress, and fewer bouts of depression or feelings of isolation than those who don't have animals. The Andersons believe that animals also help people become closer to God because of the gratitude and ability to love that an animal friend can bring out in a person. That is why each story in the book is followed by a short reflection to help readers focus on the divine messages animals deliver.

God’s Messengers contains seventy stories, featuring the following:

  • Teddy, a dog with such empathy that when a woman was distraught over losing her hair due to treatment for breast cancer, the dog pulled the hair out of her own tail. (The Presence of Teddy by Rose-Marie Silkens, British Columbia, Canada),
  • Rocky, a ferret who helped an autistic boy named Sean become more self-confident and prompted the child to ask his mother for deeper spiritual understanding of the ferret's role in his life. (Ferrets Are Made of God by Rebecca Stout, Chattanooga, Tennessee),
  • Grace, a dolphin who overcame her fears when she was beached on a Costa Rican shore and a group of volunteers began to sing the hymn Amazing Grace to her. (Amazing Grace and the Dolphins by Sierra Goodman, Costa Rica),
  • Brett and Rhett, two Dalmatians that celebrity fitness coach Richard Simmons gave to his mother and relied on to serve as her constant companions until she died. (Spotted Angels by Richard Simmons, Beverly Hills, California),
  • Kabootle, a cat adopted from an animal shelter who saved the life and home of the woman who rescued him and her young daughter when a fire broke out in their kitchen while the girl was sleeping in the bedroom. (Kabootle, Our Rescue Cat by Lauren L. Merryfield, Mill Creek, Washington).

In 1996, Allen and Linda Anderson co-founded the Angel Animals Network and its free online Angel Animals Story of the Week at http://www.angelanimals.net. The Andersons estimate that the newsletter reaches 10,000 readers in 40 countries each week. As authors, they have over 100,000 books in print, and God's Messengers is the second in an ongoing series of books that contain inspiring stories about courageous, compassionate, and loyal animals.

GOD'S MESSENGERS: What Animals Teach Us about the Divine by Allen and Linda Anderson * New World Library * October 2003 * Trade Paper * 237 Pages * Price: $14.95 * ISBN 1-57731-246-5

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