It was “Bark Mitvah” day at doggie day care yesterday, complete with a rabbi and little yamikas for the pups and doggie cake treats and everything. Now, I know my great grandparents were Jewish, but I also know I am as much a shiksa as you would ever meet, having been raised an Episcopalian. As for my dog?
“What’s her name?” asked the tall, fit, very tan and totally white-clad Rabbi Mitch.
“Now there’s a Jewish name!” he laughed.
Uh oh. I wondered if maybe this was a ceremony meant only for those of the Jewish faith. I mean, I thought it was supposed to be a blessing of the animals, something I used to organize and participate in back in the day at my church in D.C. (Like I said, I define shiksa.) It never mattered who showed up with what kind of animal to be blessed–my funky, slightly awkward, utterly cool minister couldn’t have cared less if they were Protestant, Catholic, Muslim or Jewish.
Because really, is an animal anyone’s religion? Nah, they just know who feeds them. Blessings upon all of them, right?
“So, does it matter if my dog isn’t really Jewish?” I whispered to the day care facility’s manager. Yes, I was serious–as serious as the guy wearing his own yamika. As serious as the flags and banners and balloons hanging from everywhere. As serious as Rabbi Mitch was really a rabbi–handsome and tan as he was.
“Not to worry,” she reassured me. “Most of these dogs are not Jewish.”
Well, okay then. It was just me and Rouletta, the willowy blond and her equally willowy afghan, the very nervous terrier owner and her very calm dog, a couple of giant hounds and a multitude of teacup somethings–all of whom seemed pretty into this blessing thing.
A TV crew was there. I think Rouletta might have made the cut for the night’s evening news, even though she didn’t wear her cool dress for the occasion. She posed and stared right into the camera, as if she did this every day, which maybe she did back in her show-dog days.
After a very nice general blessing for all the animals present and for those elsewhere in our hearts and in the world, each of us was called up to meet individually with Rabbi Mitch.
“So what’s your dog’s name again?” asked Rabbi Mitch.
“Rouletta,” I told him.
“Oh, of course. And yours?”
Huh? Because I was now smiling for the camera as our individual photos with Rabbi Mitch were being snapped.
“Oh, sorry. RG,” I said.
He paused for a moment as he considered this nickname that I love and that is all mine, but that never ceases to elicit a comment or two every day.
“Gigi….Now THAT’s a dog’s name,” laughed Rabbi Mitch.
And so went Rouletta’s Bark Mitzvah. Mazel Tov, baby!