New Environments

From the Intern Minister, by Christina Hockman

Last week I got a foster dog.  My terrier-mix Enzo (a.k.a. Evil Puppy) has been in need of canine company since my other, elderly dog passed away in May.  I’ve never been a foster parent before, but decided to embrace the experience.  A local rescue organization brought me Cruz, a young hound who came from a rural shelter.  He had been living in a kennel since February, and little else is known about his history.  After a few minutes in the back yard together, Enzo and Cruz were chasing and playing like old buddies.

Things changed a bit after going inside.  It became apparent that Cruz had never been in a home before.  He froze in front of the hardwood floor, refusing to leave the safety of the area rug.  Going from room to room appeared to be frightening for him.  I was thrilled to see him go up the stairs, but my excitement quickly dissolved when he hunkered down in the tiny office room and refused to leave.  He was afraid to go down the stairs.  I soon found out that Cruz has never been obedience trained.  “Sit” is not in his vocabulary.

Cruz is living in a whole new world.  He has no idea about the rules and customs of living in a home.  For instance, the 5am “howl fest” is not a custom in my home.  Nor is chewing the circuitry out of the TV remote control.  A ceramic lamp was another early casualty of his household inexperience.  Cruz even created his own doggie door by running through a screen.

New doggie door: Enzo and Cruz

New doggie door: Enzo and Cruz
(photograph by Chris Hockman)

Life with Cruz is a little different than the life I had before.  I have to be a little more vigilant and a lot more patient.  I’ve had to buy a few extra chew toys and make an unplanned stop at the Verizon store.  But these are minor inconveniences in comparison to what Cruz has to offer.  He is a sweet companion for me and a good playmate for Enzo.  He will make a great family dog when he has mastered the art of living indoors and following “people” rules.

Cruz and I are not that different.  While he is learning to be a dog in a home, I am learning to be a minister in a new congregation.  My time at the UU Fellowship of the Peninsula will be full of new people, unfamiliar processes and traditions, and a bunch of other things that I have never done before and may not be used to.  I will probably make some mistakes.  But then again, I may open a new door or window.  As we enter into this new adventure together, I welcome any patience and assistance you can offer while I adapt to my new environment — the same grace I have offered to Cruz.  And treats are always welcome!

Who knows?  Two short years from now, you may just be sending a “well trained” new minister out into the world..

I look forward to serving you and beginning our journey together!

In faith,



About acmillard

Andrew serves as minister to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula in Newport News, Virginia.
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