Saturday, January 8, 2011


For many years my cousin, a veterinarian, received Christmas cards from her clients that she displayed on her office walls. Almost without exception these cards were made from photographs of those dogs, cats, birds, and other various little pets that she had cared for throughout the years. It was worth a trip to her office just to take a look at them, because few of those photos were of the pet "au naturel" -- no, instead we saw dogs with reindeer antlers protruding from their head, Santa hats lopped over the ears of rabbits, cats with big jingle-bell collars, and any other kind of costume that their proud owners could sweet talk their pets into wearing long enough to be photographed.

But far and away the funniest was the yearly picture sent of one family's pets - daddy dog, momma dog and baby dog - in the costumes and the pose of Joseph, Mary and the baby. The "baby" dog was of a small breed and stayed the baby for a long, long time. I kept a picture of this most-interesting family for a long time, but of course now that I want it, it is not to be found.

Now if one is apt to be easily offended and/or scandalized by such a representation, all I can say is that I know some people would be and I can allow them their feelings. But for me, this idea and its execution was hysterically funny and every year I got a fresh laugh over it. To me, it is more about people and their pets than people and their religious sensibilities.

So if you fall into the latter category, you might want to close your eyes as you come to the next picture. Because I think it runs the Joseph and Mary idea a close second.

Probably most of you are unaware that there are "denominations" within Judaism just as there are in Protestant circles, although there is a bit of difference in usage of that word. The Jewish denominations are Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist, which equate more to the protestant fundamental, evangelical, and liberal movements. (In Christian circles the use of the word "denominations" signifies various groups within each of those major groupings.) Jerry and his family belonged to a Jewish Reform temple and that is really the only Jewish "denomination" I am personally familiar with. Sometimes when I see something happening in Jewish circles, usually in a different denomination, that is so different than I expect, I can't help but laugh at it. This is one of those times - and it is the picture below that made me laugh.

In the last ten years or so a number of the Reconstructionist groups have wanted to have something within their religious framework that is the equivalent of the Catholic Church's "Blessing of the Animals." Out of that desire the various rabbis have risen to the challenge, integrated Jewish prayers and blessings into a form comfortable for their congregations, and now are setting aside their own ritual "Blessing of the Animals." And no animal at all cares who blesses it or where the blessing comes from.

It is not the slip-sliding of this practice from the Christian to the Jewish religion that makes me laugh. I laugh because in the picture I see a darling little white poodle wearing a kippah, a yarmulka, just like the male members of Jerry's temple. That's downright funny, not sacrilegious or offensive. It's just funny, and clever.

There is a delightful Jewish blog I follow that has a video of this blessing:

Furthermore, there is an interesting blog called "Heeb'n'vegan" that also sheds some further light on this practice and I think you all would enjoy a quick read.

If I had something to dress Squeaky up in, I might have had a second photo to share with you on this matter. But I do not. However, I can share with you that she eats Matzoh crackers!

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