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St Rose of Lima Church Reverend Krzysztof Kuczynski stood at Newtown Park and Bark on Wednesday, April 5, with two dogs bouncing around him, smelling and greeting other dogs who were also at the town’s dog park.
Fr Kuczynski has been sharing care of the dogs with resident Ann Ziluck since the duo first picked up the puppy pair in January. The idea of housing the dogs at Ms Ziluck’s house on Aunt Park Lane was an idea that stemmed out of Christmas gift-giving.
Ms Ziluck, who was enthusiastically greeted by the 21-week-old puppies when she arrived at the park a short time later, said the dogs were a “sort of Christmas gift.”
Ms Ziluck said she found herself thinking, after Thanksgiving, about what she could do as a special gift for Fr Kuczynski, both as a friend and her priest.
“He showed me faith I could write a book about,” Ms Ziluck said.
When she asked him what he wanted for Christmas, Ms Ziluck said he requested a gift card to Target. She already knew he wanted puppies, and she remembers joking with him about the request, knowing her gift would be larger. She also knew if he was going to have a dog, he would want two. Ms Ziluck said Fr Kuczynski is a two-puppy priest.
After researching options, Fr Kuczynski said they drove to Smyrna, N.Y., on January 13 to pick up the puppies from a breeder. The Alaskan Malamute puppies were brothers from the same litter and only 8 weeks old. Fr Kuczynski has named them Ghost and Spirit.
“If you put the word holy in front of their names, it would be a reference to the Holy Spirit,” Fr Kuczynski explained.
Ms Ziluck said Ghost and Spirit will grow to be between 140 and 160 pounds each.
“I’ve always wanted dogs,” said Fr Kuczynski, adding that keeping dogs at St Rose of Lima’s rectory would have been too difficult, despite Monsignor Robert Weiss’s love for animals. Fr Kuczynski added that Msgr Weiss loves animals so much the church holds an annual animal blessing in October, but cleaning and caring for the dogs would have been hard in the space.
Fr Kuczynski said Ms Ziluck insisted keeping the dogs at her house would be okay.
The dogs have been such a joy, Fr Kuczynski said, adding that they have been happy and healthy. Along with visiting the dog park on occasion, Ghost and Spirit have also visited the town’s Catholic church on Church Hill Road. When the dogs arrived for a Youth Group meeting one day, Ms Ziluck said roughly 70 students stopped in their tracks to see the “epic cuteness.”
The personalities of the dogs are already forming. Spirit, according to both Fr Kuczynski and Ms Ziluck, is the leader. He is in charge, while Ghost is along for the ride.
To care for the dogs, Ms Ziluck and Fr Kuczynski arranged for the dogs to live at Ms Ziluck’s house. Fr Kuczynski visits daily to feed them their raw meat diet and play with them.
“I’ve turned my deck into a puppy playpen,” said Ms Ziluck.
Fr Kuczynski said the arrangement is perfect. As a priest, he is busy on the weekends, and Ms Ziluck works during the week as a senior project manager for ICSA Software International’s Stratford office. A coworker of Ms Ziluck, Erik Johnson, has also been training the dogs.
Overall Fr Kuczynski and Ms Ziluck said Ghost and Spirit are docile dogs that love to go everywhere. The dogs can become energetic if not brought for a walk or for a visit to the dog park.
By adopting the litter brothers at the same time, Fr Kuczynski said the dogs have been “able to take care of each other.”
“It’s just a perfect situation,” said Ms Ziluck.