CHRISTIAN friends – none of them what you would call Bible-bashing fundamentalists, not by a long chalk – give a knowing, satisfied, I-told-you-so little smile when I tell them I prayed for the return of Maud and Harry in my hour of deepest need. Even on the ‘phone I can sense it. It says: “You see. You say you don’t believe but, like all of us, when it comes to the crunch you know where to turn. And it worked, didn’t it?”
Did it? It seems obscene that I can pray for two missing little dogs and believe that my prayers have been answered by a loving, all-involved, personal God who seems so often to turn a deaf ear to the parents of missing children. It just doesn’t make sense.
Ian, meanwhile, has a perfectly sensible and scientific explanation when I ask “But how did they know where to come to after nearly four days’ absence? How can they possibly have found their way back without – well, some help? And why do they come home to us, not just move in with any old human who would feed and shelter them?” Easy, he says: they’re dogs; it’s instinctive. they have a built-in radar and anyway it’s hard-wired into their DNA to make their way back to the pack. We’re their pack. They’re just little wolves, really. And you’re Akela.
Oh well. Still, the awful truth is that I did a deal. Send them back safely and I’ll go to church again. I promise. How pathetic is that? And the best I can come up with is the old chestnut about God moving in a mysterious way.
Meanwhile at the weekend I went to Tynemouth Station to collect portraits of the dogs (and one of Charlie) by a fantastic Northern artist called Elizabeth Kane. She has a stall on the station – a great place for weekend bargains and lots of creative people showing their work. Elizabeth does the portraits from photographs using Photoshop, involving her clients at every step of the way, and the results are brilliant. See them at http://www.elizabethkane.wordpress.com or you can find her on Facebook.