Alongside those people being coached by personal trainers in the park, there are lots and lots of dogs being walked.
The occasional huge hound surrounded by small yappy type dogs, sometimes several on the same lead.
Slow plodders being overtaken by quick young things.
And even the smallest, cutest puppies – excited and overwhelmed by their surrounding in equal measure.
And although people don’t necessarily know each other there is a community feeling – owner to owner – that everything is ok because we have our dogs. And that you and I can relate to each other because we have dogs. And that the day is already brighter because we have our dogs.
Having a dog can be like having another member of the family.
A companion, a friend, someone who is always happy to see you and who welcomes you home.
Someone who is sad to see you leave, who knows your every move, comforts you when you are sad and bounces when you are having fun.
They are often loyal and loving and very sadly missed when they need medical help or are gone.
St Dominic is represented in art with a dog at his side. A candle in its mouth and ready to follow his master anywhere.
It made me think of two things:
How might we be more like these favoured animals? Loyal to God, happy to follow, well-trained to know what He asks of us.
Why do people keep dogs? To be unconditionally loved, to offer us support and companionship so we never feel alone, to get us up and out regularly.
Faith can be the same for us. Trust in a God who loves us utterly, who weeps when we weep, who shines when we celebrate.
That shows us unconditional love and promises his presence.
And to be part of a community of millions who also believe.
Who also trust and love and care – regardless of the struggle sometimes – and still feel part of something bigger and brighter because we have faith.
Over the coming days, take a look at the varied dogs that pass your way.
Consider how you be like them in love and acceptance of all they meet.
Smile at their human companions and pray that we all might feel more loved and reminded that God is at our side as we are beside His.
May we unconditionally love as we are unconditionally loved by Him who gave His life for us.
And May we be comforted by Him at our side when we are faced with things we struggle with. Amen.