Rosie, a lovable Australian labradoodle, provides more than companionship to Rev. Wendy McAninch: She also alerts her to important sounds that Wendy is unable to hear.
Wendy has been gradually losing her hearing for about 20 years and has been helped by hearing aids, but continues to experience tinnitus, a chronic ringing in her ears. She’s trained herself to tune out the pesky ringing, but that keeps her from hearing things like doorbells, alarm clocks, and timers.
Yet Rosie hears these sounds and informs Wendy by giving her a gentle nudge. Wendy no longer has to worry about not hearing a doorbell that signals a friend’s visit, an alarm that notifies her it’s time for medication, or a kitchen timer that keeps her from burning her dinner.
Wendy would not enjoy Rosie’s services and this improved quality of life without generous gifts to the Christmas Joy offering. Offering receipts helped pay for Rosie’s training, an expensive endeavor that Wendy, a medical retiree, couldn’t afford on her own. Cascades Presbytery and her congregation, First Presbyterian Church of Ashland, Oregon, also contributed.
Wendy had to step away from full-time ministry in 2000 due to Trigeminal Neuralgia, a severe chronic pain disorder. It soon became apparent that any full-time employment was out of the question. She has worked in parish ministry, on a presbytery staff , and in campus ministry at Southern Oregon University. She now serves in a limited part-time role as a parish associate at First Presbyterian, Ashland.
“Rosie goes to church with me on Sunday morning, and the church has embraced her presence and her function,” Wendy says. “She’s welcome at any event.”
In fact, Rosie’s friendly demeanor has helped Wendy build relationships with parishioners. “She broke down some barriers I didn’t know were there,” Wendy observes. “She wags not just her tail but her whole body. I don’t take offense when people greet her and then say hello to me.”
Rosie’s companionship also helps Wendy cope with her chronic pain condition. Rosie’s warm personality provides comfort, but her presence in Wendy’s life also keeps Wendy more fit and engaged with the world. Walking her helps Wendy get exercise and interact with other dog owners and neighbors. Wendy says otherwise she tends to drift into seclusion when her pain becomes intense.
One half of your gifts to the Christmas Joy offering goes to the Presbyterian Board of Pensions Assistance programs to benefit people like Wendy. Over the years, it’s helped hundreds of current and retired church workers and their families in financial need. The other half of the Christmas Joy offering receipts benefits Presbyterian-related racial ethnic schools.
The Christmas Joy Offering afforded Wendy not just help with everyday life, but increased peace of mind. “There is security knowing that Rosie is going to be there,” Wendy says. “She’s going to be there to alert me when I need alerting.”