My friend and minister Britt asked me last week to bless pets at our church service today. She knew I was “an animal person” but I warned her that I would cry because I’m always moved by the relationship between people and their pets. She assured me that “tears are holy things” and not to be worried. The picture above shows Britt’s fabulous shoes worn at the service in honor of her bulldog Zeke who was also in attendance.
So I took our foster dog Toad, who was unaccustomed to being around so many dogs but I knew it would be good socialization practice for him. The service was outside under a beautiful canopy of oak trees. There were water bowls for dogs and the encouragement to wander through the grass “if you or your dog needs some space.” Toad alternated between barking at other dogs and lying on his back letting me rub his belly. Scripture was read, prayers were prayed, the pianist played All Creatures Great and Small and a variety of beautiful hymns and soon it was time for the blessing.
Britt suggested that I ask the person the name of their pet and what they loved about them. She suggested that I start off, “Toad, you are a blessed creation of God…” and then go on to give thanks for bringing the owner joy, companionship, or anything else the owner mentioned. I ended the blessing asking for a healthy and long life for the pet and that the pet would always feel God’s love and that of its owner.
Maybe it’s because it was a church service and maybe because people aren’t often asked what they love about their pets but each person teared up, some sobbing, as they told me about the joy their pet brings them. Some had their pets on their phones as they didn’t think the pet would be comfortable around lots of big dogs. The roles these animals played in the lives of their owners were touching and I had plenty of holy tears myself. “She’s my constant companion.” “He loves to walk with us.” “She brings me so much joy. She can’t really protect me but she makes me feel protected.” “She makes me feel loved.”
I could spend days blessing pets and listening to what an animal brings to the life of a human. It was among the most beautiful experiences I’ve had in a long time. So if world events and daily life has gotten you down, ask someone to tell you what their pets mean to them. Life will instantly feel happier. I promise.