Blessings come, too, for beloved pet companions
Norse legend says that when a pet dies, it crosses to a place between earth and heaven where it plays and frolics in green grass. The pet waits until the day its person appears. The friends are reunited, and together they cross the Rainbow Bridge into heaven, where they are never separated again.
“I don’t know if animals go to heaven,” said the Rev. Gary Haddock, pastor at Redlands United Methodist Church. “But I do know that God knows, and we’re just passing on the blessing that’s already been given to them.”
Haddock, along with the Rev. Karen Hurst of Crossroads United Methodist Church and the Rev. Blaine Scott of First United Methodist Church, will bless pets at the Western Slope Animal Expo from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at the Mesa County Fairgrounds.
Blessing pets is a comfort to animal lovers, Scott said, adding that some people request a pet blessing before the animal undergoes surgery or another traumatic event. It alleviates some anxiety the owner may have.
“Pet blessing recognizes the important relationship that we have with our pets,” Hurst said.
The blessing is simple. The owner and pastor lay hands on the animal while thanking God for creating animals to provide comfort and companionship. God is asked to provide protection to the animal throughout its life.
Hurst explained that pet blessing is common in October because it is the birthday of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals.
“We’ll bless any animal: snakes, tarantulas or a whole herd,” Haddock said.
The pastors do ask that dogs be on a leash and other animals be in a proper carrier.
The animal’s owner will receive a blessing cup imprinted with “May God bless my pet.” It can be used as a reminder to always include animals in prayers.