dog church

The Fine Line Between Dog and God

Does your love of dog prevent you from going to church or have you found a new way to “worship”  because of your dog? Is there a fine line between dog and god? Well, for me, sort of.

Raised Catholic, I am now a practicing, well… I am spiritual. I choose not to associate with any particular religion and though I love the beauty of the religion, I choose to worship a God that loves me for me and I am much happier and at peace with myself for it. We all should have the right to our own spiritual and/or religious path, whether that involves worshiping a God or choosing to abstain from practicing any religious tenet.  I draw the line with acts of violence or disdain in the name of “God.”

So when I found myself sitting on the steps of a church recently, my dog by my side I paused for thought about the last time I actually entered a church. Growing up, I did all the things a good Catholic girl should do: First Holy Communion, Confirmation, church on Saturdays, confessionals, penance, etc. And I was told that if I didn’t behave, God would “get me” — the Old Testament and all. I don’t knock religion of any sort, I just know in my heart that a loving God and the one I choose to follow would only “get me” in the sense of “complete me” and not with a vengeance.

dog church

I now follow the word of dog, and yes it is ironic, but god and dog and the whole spelled backwards thing…let it be said that it applies to me. I often feel like my life is a bit backwards and unconventional, and I like marching to the beat of my own drum.  I love the feeling of independence and self-awareness I have at 44 years of age. It’s a long time coming and both dog and God have been a part of it.

A sense of peace swells over me when I sit at the doors of a church, my dog and I looking at the setting sun and enjoying our after-work peace and solitude together. I imagine he thinks of the mole or the rabbit driving his senses insane and I reflect on the goodness of my blessings and the many aspects of my life that make me whole.

I haven’t been to confession in over 25 years, but I do talk to my God: In my mind, on the steps of a church, and with a Cocker Spaniel by my side.

We can’t enter the church because dogs are not allowed, but that’s okay, too: I’ve got the greatest sense of peace sitting on the other side of the doors in my judgment-free and peace-filled comfort zone.

I think of the sign at the helm of Dog Chapel at Dog Mountain in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, where it is stated, “Welcome all creeds, all breeds. No dogmas allowed.”  This is on my bucket list of must-visit places, and I will get there one day soon.


So says the word of dog.

Are you more or less spiritual/religious since a dog/pet entered your life? Do you not go to church because pets are not welcomed? All thoughts are welcomed in this judgment-free zone.


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  1. I feel the same way raised in various religious organizations I now coose to believe in my higher power and see things thru the eyes of my dogs, I was always in church but found I didn’t like the pressures of organized religion and I too am at peace with myself knowing that I am not a sinner in the sense I have done wrong things but nothing that would send me to hell at least I don’t think I have. My dogs don’t prevent me from practicing that was a decision I made years ago but they do give me cause to question when one of them gets sick or hurt for no known reason and I pray a lot that nothing happens to any of them unjustifiable. I could spend hours on this topic but will close with I agree with everything you have said and I do every year take my fur babies to get blessed by a priest to ensure their safety and well beings. Thansk for sharing your thoughts on such a profound subject.

    1. Thanks, Tharice. I’ve been wanting to write this for a long time and the sense of who I am and what I believe just sort of took hold sitting with Dexter at the church doors. I want to have Dex blessed, too – have to find a church in my area that does it.

  2. I was also raised Catholic. My father was Catholic and my mother Baptist. Because she was not Catholic they were married in the Rectory. When my father died in 1960 I started attending a Baptist Church. Too judgmental, no make-up, no dancing, women wore dresses, there job was to stay home and be homemakers. As a 16yr old, I rebelled against this. Over the years I have attended many different dominations and never found one that seemed right.

    I feel God is not fire and brimstone, I feel he is a good and loving being. I talk with God, not to God. I feel if I lead a good life and am kind to humans and animals, he forgives me for not sitting in a church building worshipping him. I worship the sun, the night. The birds, trees and all he has blessed us with, I thank him for family and good friends. I also thank him for the compassion and love I have for dogs and cats.

    1. THAT is so beautiful, June: ” I talk with God, not to God” and I really can understand and relate. Thanks for commenting.

  3. I’m a doggy person. Former breeder. Now boarding kennel owner. I run several dog websites. My whole life is dogs. But I make time to go to church & mingle with other humans that love God. I like to hear their experiences. I can learn from others, and can encourage other humans that feel down. I read the Bible at home, but I can learn more from those who have studied it – and they tend to be the leaders of churches. Love dogs, yes. Love family. Love cakes. But love God with your whole mind and soul.

    1. I do love my God with my whole mind and soul. It’s just that I don’t feel the need to worship inside a church or with an organized religion. We all have a path we take 😉 Nice to hear from you, Eileen!

  4. I feel the same as Carol, Tharice, and June. Yes, I do say my prayers every night. I thank god everyday for my family, my dogs and the friends in my life. I know in my own heart and soul what I believe.
    This is the way I feel…. at the end its says “God wouldn’t allow dogs to be banned from Heaven. After all, He created them to be man’s companions in life, why would he separate them in death?” Like Will Roger says “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.
    I love the picture of Dexter standing at the church doors. Carol you are a fantastic writer! Thanks for sharing your thoughts…. you are not alone there are many of us that feel the same way and you do!

    1. Thanks, Sharon. Thinking even if I were dogless, which won’t happen in my lifetime, I’d still be praying outside and sitting on the steps. I feel at peace there, at home, and talk to both dog and God even when I want for nothing…. for me, sort of like a familiar friend. I wouldn’t dial up a friend only when I needed something and I view dog and God the same way. Thanks for listening and commenting!

  5. Nothing makes me angrier than people who use God to spread hate, prejudice, and fear. My God sounds a lot like yours: loving and compassionate. And I think that’s reflected in dogs. The wag of their tail, their intense loyalty, their forgiveness. I grew up Catholic. I attend church on occasion, but I believe your actions and your words are a better reflection of your God than how often or where you attend church.

    1. Very well stated, “And I think that’s reflected in dogs. The wag of their tail, their intense loyalty, their forgiveness.” – thanks Maggie

  6. My dogs have brought me closer to dogs but unfortunately my love of dogs has driven me from many people. I’ll explain both.
    My dog B.J. was scared to death of thunder and lightning but I always loved it. Well one time I was watching the storm roll in and he wanted to be by me outside–I was talking into a mini tape recorder the glory of the storm when I looked a B.J. and he had relaxed and appeared to be enjoying it too. Suddenly I realized he felt safe because he was with me in the storm—-And if I could rest in the Father’s love in the midst of my storms I would have what B.J. had with me.
    Only one example of the first point but many have happened since.
    But concerning the second point, my non aggressive dogs over the years have been threatened with bodily harm, let loose so they aren’t safe, I’ve been bullied because of them and as my one senior was dying an X-ray showed a bullet lodged in her. Then there is the abuse towards animals in so many disgusting forms that keeps increasing. These things make me want to rescue as many as I can and go far away from people and live in animal peace, and unfortunately sometimes I feel like becoming violent myself against those who would abuse.

    1. Wow Kathy, you have been through a lot with your dogs. Sounds like a blessing both ways: You for the dogs and the dogs for sharing life with you!

  7. What a though provoking article. You made many excellent points, Carol! Like, you, I, too, have so many similar feelings. I think if you wrote this article 15 or 20 years ago, many people who follow organized religion would have “pounced” on your words while diagreeing with you from the “high heavens”. Today, I think many, many people are no longer “following” organized religion. Rather, they believe what makes them feel spiritual and closer to a supreme being. I think some of the comments here definitely reflect that, too.

    This article makes for a really good conversational piece!

    1. I appreciate it, Becky. You are right – years ago we didn’t talk about these things.

  8. I grew up in a very strict religious home. My father was a die hard pentecostal, or for those who may not have heard of this, holy roller. I was forced to go to church from a young age , several times a week at the least, until I could finally leave home at age 18. I grew up terrified of thinking or doing or feeling the wrong things that would send me down that inevitable road to hell. I was so afraid all the time. On top of that I grew up in a very abusive home, in every way possible. Even through all of this, I knew there was something bigger than me and all of us, “out there.” AND the one thing that kept coming back to me during those dark growing up years, was, “God is Love, ” not hate and anger and abuse. I have always been a very empathetic and sensitive person, and I attribute this to what I dealt with. My love for animals has always been very strong. I do not go to church, and over time, because I knew that I felt a deep connection to something more powerful and good that lived in my heart, I realized that this was my spirituality, and for me I didn’t need to go to church. I see God, or my higher power, not in a building, but in the hearts of so many people who give everything they have to rescue those precious lives that have been abused and tossed aside. I truly am a very spiritual person. I pray, I have conversations with God, I believe in him. I know their is something bigger than us all, I feel it, I have seen it. I try to be the best person I can be. When I do not have the money to give, I take time to say a special prayer, because I know it is heard. My Ginger has many issues around fear. She is not the “norm,” and to me she is one of the special ones. I feel blessed that God entrusted me with her care, because she is so gentle, so full of love and brings me such joy. I see God in the beauty of the clouds and the ocean, the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, in so many things. I just want to say, that I believe that God lives in our hearts, and we don’t have to go to a building that would not allow me to bring my girl, to feel his love and presence. I see God everyday in the amazing rescues that are done. God lives in our hearts, and if we listen we will hear him.

    1. Jan, you gave me tears. Seriously, tears here, but in a very good, uplifting way. I feel the love in your words and am grateful you shared them here. A tummy rub to Ginger, too!

  9. Wow, Carol, I just started reading your blog recently, and I’m so impressed with you and your readers that you can have a civil, open conversation like this. Many online discussions about religion seem to devolve quickly into name calling and finger pointing. It’s refreshing to see a group of “dog people” – who tend to be so diverse in all other aspects of our lives – who can discuss beliefs in a non-judgmental way!

    I was raised by evangelical Christians, but I am an unflinching agnostic. I find the origins and psychological benefits of religion to be absolutely fascinating, but I don’t believe there is a divine being behind the curtain. That said, I do believe in individual souls and that most beings do have them – not just humans. Some souls inherently strive to do and be the best that they can be. One of my dogs, Snickers, is simultaneously very silly and very wise. I believe he has an old soul. He’s taught me a lot about how to live my life and what’s really important. I would certainly say that I’ve found a new way to LIVE because of my dogs.

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