…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

My Dog, the Scriptorian


By Rex Goode


Barney and I Near Tanner Creek

Barney and I Near Tanner Creek

Today is high council Sunday and I am speaking as companion to a member of the high council in another ward, one of the joys of having a stake calling. I didn’t mean that sarcastically. I really do enjoy speaking, probably way more than I enjoy the administrative stuff.

For me, speaking in church is a something I look forward to. Never mind what the topic is today. That’s not what this is about.

One thing I firmly believe about speaking in church is that the moment you look down at a note, read from a talk by a general authority, or read a scripture, you’ve lost the all-important eye contact and it makes your talk just a little more dull. Keeping a talk interesting is always a challenge, but I think it helps a lot to memorize the scriptures I’m going to use. That way I don’t have to rummage around in my scriptures, trying to find the right thin ribbon that I used to bookmark the passage I want to read and then scanning the page for it.

It only takes seconds, but in those few seconds, people’s minds wander. While I would like to believe they’re riveted to my face and voice, I’m not sure I command that kind of interest. I just think it is better to memorize it.

I’m good at memorizing, or at least I used to be. I’m getting to be like President Boyd K. Packer, as he described in the recent General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In his poem, “Unfinished Composition”, he wrote and quoted in “These Things I Know“:

I could read a line through twice
And quote it back again.

I used to be able to do that too. Now, I have to recite it over and over, both in my head, and aloud. It helps to have an audience. I’m usually memorizing these things early in the morning, because that’s when my mind is most pliable. I know, I’m weird.

Well, since I’m a morning person and my wife isn’t, there aren’t many beings awake in the house at that time. I have to try quoting it to the dogs. I’ve got two choices.

Cookie, our Toy Pomeranian, is a very strange dog. We rescued her from an abusive and neglectful situation, but she’s settled in pretty well. The problem with getting her to listen is that if I speak right at her, she just ignores me. I think she learned it from my wife.

Barney, our American Eskimo, came to us when one of my wife’s clients had to go into a care facility and couldn’t take care of him. Like a lot of this breed, he only looks like a dog. He’s actually a chicken with white fur instead of feathers, and walks on all fours. He thinks that every human that comes into the house, with the exception of my wife, is there to eat him.

He’s not really afraid of me, except when I look right at him and start talking. It makes him uncomfortable. I sometimes wonder if he thinks that a human speaking is something akin to licking our lips when we see something highly edible.

So, today, preparing for my talk, I’ve been trying to memorize the following verses:

He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him;
But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, for that darkness hath blinded his eyes (1 John 2:9–12).

I had just taken a shower and was putting on my shirt when I walked into the family room. There on my wife’s recliner, lay Barney. He gave me his usual “Please don’t eat me” look and wagged his tail.

I quoted the passage to him, incorrectly a couple of times, and was lost. I started over again. He still looked at me. He laid there for three attempts and when I got it right, he jumped down and went and hid behind my wife’s chair, as if to say, “You got it right. Excuse me, but I have to hide from you now.”

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