John Mastel poses with his dog, Zoey. After Mastel’s aunt, Bette Zych sent a prayer shawl for Zoey, the dog recovered rapidly from hip replacement surgery. (Submitted photo courtesy Bette Zych)

This is a true story about my nephew, John, his dog, Zoey and a prayer shawl.

By way of background, our parish asked people who could knit or crochet to make prayer shawls for the sick. I have made quite a few of them, because they are fun to knit and a worthwhile cause. While the shawls are being constructed the crafters offer prayers for the sick. The finished shawls are blessed and ready to be handed out to the sick, the needy or the elderly. The shawls are no cost to anyone as the yarn is donated by people, fund raisers and different parish organizations; and the shawls themselves are made by volunteers.

One Sunday about a year ago or so, I got a call from my nephew, John, who lives in Fargo, N.D. He sounded much like he was in tears. I asked him what was wrong, and he said, his dog, Zoey, wasn’t feeling well, as she had hip replacement surgery and wasn’t progressing too well. My first reaction was I’ll say a prayer for Zoey, but after I hung up the phone, I wondered what more I could do for sick Zoey. She is such a good and loving dog, as I met her one time when I visited my nephew.

I was knitting a prayer shawl when John called. That gave me an idea. Prayer shawls are for people, not for dogs, but when dogs get sick, you pray for them to get well, right? So, why not a prayer shawl for Zoey?

The next day I went to the church office to pick up a shawl for Zoey. There were a lot from which to choose, but one in particular stood out among the others as if to say, “Take me for Zoey!” which I did.

It wasn’t big like most of them were. Although Zoey is a rather large dog, I guessed you wouldn’t need a large shawl for a dog. So I took it home, packed it up, and sent it as fast as possible to John.

He got it a few days later, and read how it might help Zoey. He bunched it up a bit for a pillow and put it in her bed. She laid her little head on it and fell fast asleep.

During the night John got up to check on her and she was still sound asleep. The prayers must have been working, because early the next morning, John felt something on his face. It was Zoey, who had gone into his bedroom, giving him a few “licks” as though to say, “Thank you, John, I feel so much better,” and then went back to her bed for some more rest.

Several days later, John took her to the vet for a check-up. The vet was amazed at her progress and wondered how it came about.

John told him it must have been the prayer shawl my Aunt Bette sent to her. He chuckled a little and said, “Yeah, that could have done it!” He also told John that maybe Zoey wouldn’t have to have surgery on the other hip, but only time will tell.

The days that followed were incredible. Zoey was up and about, not frisky at first, but feeling good. Before long, she was walking with John, exercising and eventually running and chasing squirrels like her old self.

I’m writing this a year or so later. Zoey is still doing great and needs no more surgery, at least for now, and my nephew is doing well also.

This is living proof that prayers can bring about healing, even for dogs.

(Zych is a member of Divine Mercy Parish, South Milwaukee.)