Last week we took our dog to church.
The Episcopal church follows the lectionary, and the seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost belongs to St. Francis of Assisi. Though best known for his solidarity with the poor, legend has it that Francis could also talk to animals. In honor of St. Francis, everyone got to bring their dogs and cats, bunnies and hamsters, turtles and guinea pigs to church last week.
We’d been to this particular service, held annually, once before. Oddly, it was the first service we attended at what was to become our church: we showed up on a Sunday morning to find the service was in the gym, and everyone had their pets with them. It was unexpected and a little nuts and a very fun and unthreatening way to ease in to a new community.
Now that we knew what to expect from this special service, we were looking forward to it. What I didn’t expect, now that we know people a little better, was how interesting it would be to see everyone with their pets.
Do you remember that scene in 101 Dalmations when Pongo stares out the window and watches the dog-walkers go by, all of whom bear an eery resemblance to their owners?
That’s exactly what it felt like at church. The Great Dane owners looked like they belonged with their noble, elegant Great Danes. The collie owners looked like they belonged with their fluffy, loyal collies. The Scotty dog owners looked like they had the Scotty dog personality, even if I hadn’t recognized it before I’d seen them with their dogs.
We have a chocolate lab named Harriet. she’s placid, companionable, and loves retrieving tennis balls more than life itself. Now, of course, I’m now wondering what our choice of Harriet says about our family. Did we choose a pet that reflects our own selves back to us?
George Orwell said that by age 50, everyone has the face he deserves. Our faces are the windows to our souls, and with every day we live, we choose—with every thought we think, every decision we make—what they reveal about our innermost selves.
(For years, I inadvertently attributed this quote to Oscar Wilde—it seems like the sort of thing he would say, doesn’t it?—and pegged the year as 40. I thought about this quote a lot as I edged closer to the imagined milestone. Now I’m relieved to discover I’m not so close after all.)
In a decade and a half or so, I’ll have the face I deserve, and my personality will ostensibly be on display for all to see. In the meantime, my chocolate lab is doing the job for me.
Does your pet reflect your personality? Have you noticed that other people’s pets accurately reflect THEIR personalities?
P.S. Musings on personality, from the archives.
P.P.S. I wrote a book about personality coming out September 19, 2017: Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything. Click here to pre-order.