I didn’t know what work my new human did when we first met and he brought me to Brooklyn. We dogs don’t seem to have much say in that kind of thing. And that’s okay with me. Humans have this saying about “working like a dog,” but whenever and wherever that was, it’s different now for most of my kind. I would hate to have to ‘work like a human.’ People look to me like most of them work too much and a lot of them don’t seem to like it too much. They just seem unhappy. I hear them saying that they have to do it to pay something called ‘the bills,’ which I have never seen. But I guess the bills really do exist. I have heard others say they work so that they can eat. That one I cannot understand at all. I have eaten twice a day all my life and I get a lot of cookies most days too. I even like carrots and brocolli and lettis. But I never remember working so that I would have them to eat. Poor humans.
Anyway, my human it turns out works at different places that are called church. I did not know what that was either. My other people went a lot of places, but I don’t think they ever went to places called church. I never heard them mention church. But my new human is there a lot.
After we were in Brooklyn I got to go over to church with him. It only takes about 10 minutes to walk there. It is a fun walk and we go by two churches on the way, so I get to see what churches look like. They are all a little different, but they are more different from people’s houses than they are different from each other.
The walk was fun, but not when we got there. There are a lot of little kids who go to school at this church my human goes to. They are okay, but they are really loud and they move fast and they rush at me and make all kinds of noises. I get so afraid that I feel my eyes get big and I can’t breathe right. I don’t think they want to hurt me, but wow. When they are all together they are . . . I don’t know the word. But I know that you can’t ignore them!
So we go inside the church. Inside it is dark and quiet. I like that a lot, especially with all the little humans on the other side of the door. There are just a few people inside most days. There is a nice lady downstairs who sits at a desk and talks on the phone to other people. There is man upstairs who is the boss. He is interesting and he is nice to me. He has a dog too!
The church is big and has a lot of color and pretty windows. It is a fun place to run. Me and the little humans agree about that. One day a week a bunch of other people come to the church. There is something called music which I don’t understand but they like that and they open their mouths and they all make the same sounds (or almost at least).
Some of the people at church seem very happy. They seem to be kind to each other. But some of the others seem crabby, like everything is wrong and they don’t like anybody. I am not sure why both kinds of people come to church. But I have seen the same kinds of people in all the places where I have gone to work with my human. I can tell the kind of person each one is as soon as I meet them and hear them speak. I keep away from the upset ones. I don’t know the secret of calming them down. My human doesn’t know how either. But sometimes he thinks he does!
The church he worked at in Brooklyn has its name. Churches have names, like people do. That church is called Grace. I like that name a lot. I had a name when I came to my new human. I can’t remember that name now. My new human didn’t like my old name too much. But that did not mean that he didn’t like me. I am glad that I could understand that.
So one day a little while after we lived in Brooklyn, he told me that my new name is Grace. I like that name. And sometimes he says Gracie instead, but it’s about the same thing. So that’s who I am and everybody knows it now. When we see new people, and I am always scared then, he tells them that I’m Grace and they like it too. They call me by my name right away and sometimes, I think, they want to be friends.
And that’s a good thing.
For a really shy little thing, Gracie proved early that she can move in a lot of circles. Some circles really make her frightened, like circles of pre-kindergarten Brooklyn residents. She can’t seem to make any sense of what they’re about. (And that’s probably about right). But she can also show up at a fancy dress party (just passing through of course) and attract a lot of positive attention. Again she doesn’t really like or look for the attention, but she is getting accustomed to it.
She has these really deep brown eyes. Everybody says that they look absolutely human. So when people look at her, they stop. Sometimes they don’t speak for a moment. They seem to be figuring something out, like ‘did I know this creature in a prior life?’ But then they welcome her and fuss and coo over her. She doesn’t get a lot less scared, it seems to me. But she is learning all the time.
People ask me sometimes why she doesn’t come generally to services in the church. I have no real answer so I joke and say that she is a Presbyterian. Now mind you, Presbyterians are fine folks by and large and I don’t mean to suggest anything other than that. But the implication is that she might be more comfortable with folks she belongs to in terms of worship. Anyway, it’s only meant to give Gracie an out, until -if ever- it becomes clear she wants to come to worship. But church she is getting used to. She is there more hours each week than the majority of church members. I like having the company. If I am sitting at a desk or table, Grace is under it, always, right at my feet and aware of everyone and everything. She’s kind of like a little guardian angel. I often have thought that if she had human speech it would be fascinating every day, without exception, to hear her take on what happened that day.
Maybe someday we will be able, somehow, to have that conversation.