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JACK SMITH

Chronicling Dog of a Wedding in Ventura Society

October 19, 1989|JACK SMITH

Johanna Overby, president of the San Buenaventura Friends of the Library, has sent me a fascinating clipping from the Ventura Star-Free Press.

It is, at first glance, a routine wedding story, the kind that appear in the society, family or life-style section of every newspaper. It is told in the immemorial manner of such stories, in a style as sacred as Scripture, noting that the couple "exchanged nuptial vows" on a certain day, "with Pastor Gordon Rasmusson officiating."

As wedding stories invariably do, it lists the family connections of the bride and bridegroom, and notes that the bride, who was given in marriage by her father, wore "an off-white tea-length Victorian lace dress."

Also duly named are the maid of honor (the bride's sister), who wore "a light pink tea-length dress with white lace," and the bridesmaid, another sister, whose attire is not described. (I do not like to criticize a fellow journalist, but that seems a rather critical oversight, considering the general thoroughness of the story.)

There were two best men, both named and identified as to places of origin. But it is the next paragraph that lifts this story out of the ordinary and makes me wonder whether, indeed, a new element has been introduced into this ancient ceremony.

It reads: "Flower dog was the bride's golden Labrador, Trinity Lakee, who wore a pink wildrose collar while carrying a white calla lily bone down the grass aisle."

The story goes on to list the bride and bridegroom's academic credentials and their current occupations. There is no further mention of the flower dog. Evidently the readers are to assume that a flower dog is a routine member of a wedding party, and that no explanation is necessary.

I have all kinds of questions. Was the aisle grass because the wedding was held out on a lawn? Or was an artificial grass turf laid down in the middle aisle especially for the dog?

Did someone lead the dog? Or had it been trained to follow the bride down the aisle? Was the dog a male or female? The name Trinity Lakee is ambiguous as to sex. I suppose, on the other hand, that it doesn't matter. Let's not be sexist about the flower dog.

And what is meant by "white calla lily bone?" Is it an artificial calla lily with a stalk like a bone? Or a real bone with a calla lily sticking out of its end? Was the dog trained to carry the calla lily in its mouth?

There is a photograph of the bridal couple sipping wine out of silver chalices. But Overby understandably asks, "Where was the photographer?" Obviously she means where was the photographer when the flower dog was going down the aisle.

I must say that the reporter who wrote the story, even though he or she neglected to describe the bridesmaid's dress, showed a great deal of aplomb in dealing with the flower dog. He or she gave the dog no more or less attention than was its due as a member of the wedding: Its name, its attire, its relation to the bride, and its function.

I'm afraid that if I had been assigned to cover that wedding I might have given a disproportionate account of the dog's presence, perhaps forgetting that there is only one star at any wedding--the bride.

Still, I wonder what the dog's role will be in the marriage when the bride and bridegroom return from their honeymoon in the Cascade Mountains and take up residence in Santa Rosa. Being the bride's dog, will Trinity (I hope I am not being too familiar) live with the newlyweds? Does the bridegroom have a dog? If so, will the two be compatible?

Of course we read of all kinds of eccentric weddings these days. People are married in balloons. Nudists are married in the nude. I believe a couple were married not long ago underwater in a diving bell. It seems to me I've heard of a couple being married on water skis.

What strikes me as being outre about the flower dog, though, is that in every other way this wedding was traditional. One senses that the guests were not astonished by the dog.

Have I missed something? Are flower dogs now de rigueur ?

Anyway, I hope the three of them will be very happy.

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