Rev. Robert Livingston and Daisy
I began my partnership with Daisy, a young Golden Retriever "Service Dog for Ministry" in October. She has become a favorite in the various ministry settings in which I am involved. In churches, she opens up conversations with people who might be reluctant otherwise. She is particularly good with kids, even the most hesitant. Youngsters reportedly say something like, "We had a dog named Daisy in church today, and the pastor let me pet her." Adult: "Oh really! Who was the minister?" Child: "I don't know, but Daisy was so sweet." The only drawback, I suppose, is that she always sleeps next to the pulpit during my sermons. I hope it is not modeling behavior!
Daisy accompanies me on home visits, committee meetings, and organizational gatherings, as well as to worship services. We have not had the opportunity yet to visit in hospitals or care facilities, but I am certain she will provide a calming, comforting, and warm presence there, as well. We go together anywhere it is safe for her to go, and she's great company. However, she does make shopping twice as long an adventure as it used to be without her. All kinds of people want to greet her, and she gives me great openings to talk about the mission of NEADS and how Daisy came to be my "associate pastor". One church I served even listed her as that on the staff roster!