Pastor blesses the beasts

There’s more than one reason the phrase doesn’t go “quiet as a church dog.”

Dozens of dogs, well outnumbering a couple of cats wisely tucked into carriers, sniffed, barked and tugged on their leashes while gathered for a blessing of the animals ceremony Sunday afternoon outside St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 3888 27 1/2 Road.

But as the Rev. Hollis Wright dabbed holy water on each pet’s head and handed each a dog biscuit, the animals forgot the excitement of making new furry friends, if for just a little while.

“She was so calm,” Patricia Aldridge said of her toy maltese, Muffin, who received a blessing Sunday for the second year in a row.

Aldridge explained the blessing as “a healing for the dogs.”

Sharon Conrad said her shih tzu, Bandit, is 8 years old and has arthritis in his hips. Conrad said she figured a blessing may help Bandit the way it helps other ailing church members.

“He seems not only to be calmer but moving better,” she said while Bandit wagged his tail and sniffed the offerings of a nearby dog treat vendor. Two — Mesa Feed and Tagooven Pet Treats – had booths on the church lawn for the event.

Wright said the blessing is designed to bring peace to the animals and their owners. She learned the technique from John Millen, a reverend she worked with in Hawaii. Millen died in 2007, and the blessing, now in its second year, is offered in his memory.

Millen’s daughter, Katharine, came from Fort Collins on Sunday to have her border collie, Kirk, blessed at the ceremony.

Katherine said she believes the blessing offers dogs a chance to socialize and allows owners a chance to bring a part of their family to church who usually stays home in the kennel on Sunday mornings.

Blessing of the animals ceremonies are performed each year at churches across the country around Oct. 4, which is the day some Christians celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

There’s a place in religion for all God’s creatures, St. Matthew’s member Joy Wyman said.

“God loves all of us, including animals,” she said.


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