“I Played Fetch with God”

by Samantha Crescitelli

"Confessions" by Alexandra Garrity (ceramic)

“Confessions” by Alexandra Garrity (ceramic)

“I Played Fetch with God” first appeared in Curry Arts Journal 2009.

I’ve never considered myself much of a believer. I’ve never identified with a saint, or felt the desire to drop to my knees in prayer to bring good into my life. In fact, I’ve always believed the notion of praying to a faceless being with a rather generic name to be tedious. What is more irritating I’ve found, however, is not the people that are normally regarded as Bible-thumpers, or people who are truly religious and have found solace in belief; it is the people who insist on participating in superficial faith. The kind of people who pray only when something has gone horribly wrong in their lives, or when they want something of material benefit. Praying for a Coach bag will not make it appear at your bedside when you wake, nor will it put the $600 in your pocket to buy your own (and if $600 does miraculously materialize in your pocket, I am sure there would be many more advisable ways to spend the cash). The fact of the matter here is, I haven’t enough faith in anyone (this includes myself) to do anything that will benefit me, or give me something that I’ve asked for, so I won’t trust the universe, either. All I can do is make my own luck.

This brings me to the day I sat in a chair in my living room with my feet tucked under me, twirling a pen in my hand and staring at the dog I’d impulsively decided to rescue from a shelter that morning in a desperate attempt for companionship. He sniffed idly around his new surroundings, glancing at me every few minutes with big brown eyes full of reproach, as though asking for some indication of what he should do next. I was contemplating what to name him, a very serious matter for me, and did not appreciate his attempts to distract me. He was barely a year and a half old and had been neglected by his previous owners who simply called him Al, which I found to be an absolutely informidable name for a dog.

“What to name you,” I pondered aloud.

As I thought, the pen I’d been toying with fell from between my fingers and clattered gently to the hardwood floor. Within seconds, the dog was by my side with the pen in his mouth, wagging his tail happily. I took it cautiously, surprised when he didn’t put up a fight. No dog I’d ever owned had actually ever played fetch properly and willingly given up the object without a rousing game of tug of war.

I experimentally tossed the pen further across the room. Again, the dog fetched it and brought it back to me. He appeared to be smiling—if dogs can even smile the same way we do.

Maybe he’s just being a suck up, I thought. Trying to be cute. I repeated the cycle three more times, just to be sure. This dog was positively unfaltering in his promptness in returning the pen.

“All right,” I said aloud, “this just might be too good to be true.”

I sighed heavily. I wondered how obedient this dog really was, and even began to look forward to not needing to train him. I would put him to the test.

“Sit.”

He did.

“Lie down.”

He did. I knew that I was beginning to grasp at straws of what could have easily been false hope.

“Roll over?”

He rolled across the carpet not once, but twice. “Show off,” I mumbled, though I was truly impressed.

“Play dead.” Surely this would be the final test of this dog’s capabilities.

I began to believe that this dog was a better actor than Keanu Reeves (which I’ll be the first to admit is a very low standard, even for a dog). How wonderfully refreshing to have someone—or rather something—listen to me for once, obey my every command without questioning me. I looked back at him and ordered: “Stay,” just for good measure as I made my way to my computer. I pulled up an empty e-mail to send a message to my mother inquiring about suggestions for a name. Hi Mom, I began, I adopted a dog this morning and I’m having a really hard time coming up with a name. He really is the most bizarre god I’ve ever – oops, typo. Delete delete del – god?  I looked over my shoulder at the dog who was looking at me expectantly, as though he knew what I was thinking, his tongue lolling sloppily to one side.

This dog did everything I told him to without question. How ironic, not to mention downright blasphemous, that I might name him God and be the one ordering him around. I pictured future conversations with my family and friends: “So what did you do this morning?” they would ask. “Oh, nothing much,” I’d reply. “Just played some fetch with God.”

I laughed to myself as I absently patted him on the head, “I think you just might be the answer to my religious identity crisis.”

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