Rambo gets religion

Courtesy photo Rambo’s owners believe taking the dog to church made him more well-behaved.

By Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico

A little dog went to church and became a new person … uh, canine, that is.

Clovis residents Kurt Vigil and Joy Lucero started taking Rambo, an overly aggressive corgi cross, to Faith Christian Family Church last year. They insist the dog became well behaved after the first trip.

Lucero received Rambo six years ago, when she was 16.

Vigil, Lucero’s boyfriend who owns Bass Place Car Audio in Portales, said Rambo ran with six pit bulls in the rural neighborhood where Lucero’s parents lived. The little dog seemed to be in charge of them all, he said.

“I mean, he’d come home cut up, beat up; he didn’t care,” Vigil said.

Despite that, Lucero dressed Rambo in shirts, sunglasses, reindeer antlers and more. She said he likes his clothes.

“I guess I treat him like he is my son,” she said.

In 2007, Lucero brought Rambo to live at Vigil’s house, already home to several other dogs. Rambo bit Vigil’s ear the first night, and he acted aggressively toward the other dogs.

“At first it startled me, because it was the first time he’d ever shown aggression like that before so I was scared,” Lucero said.

Eventually, Rambo and Vigil’s Chihuahua, Bambi, produced a puppy, Flower.

The second time Rambo attacked the puppy, in October 2007, Vigil decided he’d had enough. He put the corgi mix in the car and headed to the pound.

On the way, however, Vigil relented because of his girlfriend’s affection for the dog. He suggested taking Rambo to his church.

“This is the last chance,” he thought.

During the service that evening, Rambo, clothed in a striped polo shirt, sat quietly. At the end of the service, Vigil took him to pastor David Swann, who was accepting of the dog.

“He just kind of looked at us,” Vigil said. “No judgment, no ‘Why is there a dog in my church?’, no nothing.”

Swann prayed over Rambo, and within days, Vigil said, the dog’s behavior improved.

“I thought it was awesome,” Lucero said.

Vigil called the change a miracle.

“You know, I’m not a miracle worker, but there is someone who is,” Vigil said.

Lucero and Vigil still take Rambo, dressed for the occasion, to church every time they go, and he continues to behave well.

Congregation member Ann Griffin said she doesn’t advocate animals coming to church in general, but Rambo is unique.

“He’s well behaved,” she said. “You don’t even know he’s there.”

People were initially surprised to see Rambo, Griffin said, but he won acceptance with his good conduct.

Vigil said the corgi mix now accepts the other dogs in the house, even new ones Vigil rescues and keeps until he finds homes for them. Rambo and Flower spend much of their time together peacefully.

“We have a good little family,” Vigil said.

Vigil doesn’t know if Rambo can believe in God, but he said something happened that day in church, and it’s awesome.