Two Dogs, One Bishop

My friend Fiona is an artist who, among other things, paints portraits of horses. So it was not surprising that she went to a horse fair with her dog, Fly. There she met her friend Cynthia, who was also accompanied by her dog. So far, so good – we have the two dogs.

As these ladies were sitting chatting on a grassy knoll, who should appear but the Right Reverend Doctor Robert Gillies, Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney. (Robert is a bishop of the Scottish Episcopal Church.)

As he progressed around the fair he took time out to bless the two dogs, which got me thinking. Were these two animals any better – or even any different – than they had been before achieving their blesséd status? And, here’s a tricky one for the theologians, would their souls ascend to heaven when they died, now that they had been blessed?

But possibly the most important of these questions was this: why had the bishop blessed the dogs but not their owners? Were Fiona and Cynthia not in need of blessing? Fiona, after all, has been known to partake of gin – an accusation which could not be leveled at Fly.

I can’t help visualising the scene as a Victorian narrative painting, with the bishop in his robes stretching out the ecclesiastical arm as he blesses the dogs, each of the fortunate animals have the slight but perceptible glow of a halo as they look up at their spiritual benefactor.

Okay, maybe not a halo, but a dog collar at least.

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