The very sad news from the vicarage this week is that our beloved dog Marley has died. We have had Marley since 2015 and he lived to be nearly 14 years old. He was originally a rescue dog, a bit of a mix of breeds, but mostly golden Labrador. Whatever he was, he was certainly a very patient, friendly, loyal, (and perhaps lazy!) companion.
Marley was loved around the parish, and he contributed to church life in lots of ways – one of his nicknames was Reverend Marley. Marley was a devoted regular of the Wednesday communion service, where he received many tickles and snacks from the faithful attenders. St Mary’s loved having Marley around the church building, where a bag of treats was kept in a cupboard for his visits. The tables at St Mary’s were just a little low though, and Marley was known to snaffle a sausage roll or two when nobody was looking. Young and old loved seeing Marley and he has made many appearances at Christmas parties, Summer Fairs, Flightpaths and Atfield House services. Over this last year, when he has been a great comfort to our family through the lockdowns, he has featured in our online services and recently appeared in the Blue School’s Jersualema dance video. Some young people in the parish have asked to walk him on occasion, and I was happy for them to enjoy taking Marley out. When visiting some of our elderly, I have heard the remark on more than one occasion: “What, no Marley? Thank you for coming vicar, but do remember to bring him next time.” Most recently, he made an appearance at our Family Food Club over Easter – everybody wanted to stroke Marley and take a selfie with him. When they met him, people often warmed to Marley and felt at ease, and began opening up about how they were doing, which led to good conversations. At other times, when I encountered some of Isleworth’s colourful, confused or confrontational characters around the church sites, Marley would diffuse any tension with his big eyes and wagging tail.
We give thanks to God for creating dogs for us to care for, for the joy they bring us and for the lessons they teach us. Rest in peace, Reverend Marley.