We said good-bye to Vinnie today. His last “Vinnie Here” column ran in the bulletin today. Before Mass started, we sat down in the pew and read the final conversation that Father and Vinnie had to share with us. And the kiddo saw Father up near the alter preparing for Mass, and he went up there by himself and told Father he was sorry Vinnie died and that he liked Vinnie and that Vinnie was a good dog. Then the kiddo came back to us, sat down, took a pencil out of the pew and drew a little halo and wings on the picture of Vinnie that has accompanied all the inspirational columns in the bulletin week after week and year after year now.
In his homily today, Father talked about how hard it is to deal with loss, and how amazing it is the way four-legged friends become family and so important to us. After both Father and much of the congregation composed ourselves, he also told us the story of how the internet is a funny thing... how it can get you into trouble. Like it did for Father on Friday. He read the story in the Akron Beacon Journal about shipping dogs from the overcrowded Summit County shelter off to a Buffalo shelter. He then got on the internet and looked through the dogs available in Akron, but none of them connected with him. But from that site there was a link to a Labrador rescue site in Dayton, and the very last dog on the list was The One. Looking a lot like Vinnie, this female dog made her way into Father’s heart.
Father told us how he kept enlarging and then minimizing her picture, over and over. Then he picked up the phone, figuring that no one would be around on the day before the holiday. But someone did pick up, and Father chatted with them about the dog. Then Father told them he didn’t really know when he could make it down to Dayton... and the person on the other end said, “But I’m headed to Pennsylvania on Sunday afternoon and have to go right through Akron. I could bring her if you’d like!” And that’s how we came to have a new church dog. Not one better or worse than Vinnie, not a replacement, but simply a new member of the family.
This week we’ll be headed out to PetSmart to pick up a gift card and the kiddo will be making a welcome home card, because we want to make sure Minnie knows, just like Vinnie, that she is loved and she is home.