As soon as the hymn and the prayers were completed, the interim pastor at St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church in Lacey turned to his audience to get to the job at hand.
And it didn’t involve the 15 or so people who had gathered around him. Instead, he was focused on the animals who had tagged along with their owners.
“I’m going to walk around, say this blessing and sprinkle water on your critters,” said Pastor Ed Lovelady, who was participating in yet another pet blessing in honor of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, and the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, which is Tuesday.
Sunday’s pet blessing was an all-dog affair, although Lovelady said he has blessed a variety of animals over the years, including farm animals, spiders, snakes and lizards.
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Don and Jenny Laford of Olympia brought Lucy, their 8-year-old poodle, to get her first blessing. A previous dog they owned, Zazu, also had been blessed at the church, Don Laford said. He became a longtime dog owner as an adult, he said, because his mother wouldn’t allow dogs or cats in the house. As a child, he had a turtle and goldfish.
Malcom, a collie-German shepherd mix, had returned for another blessing, said his owner, Beth Ilem of Lacey, who rescued him about five years ago. She noticed that it was an all-dog affair on Sunday, too, although goats, rabbits and horses have shown up in previous years, she said.
Karen Langlois of Olympia brought Becca, a 3-year-old pit bull that is also a rescue dog. Langlois said she rescued the dog from what she termed a “high kill” shelter in California.
“They are loving, loyal and very smart,” said Langlois about the pit bull, adding that dog fighters have given the breed a bad rap.
“She’s a wonderful dog,” she said about Becca.
Lovelady said the blessing is a way to recognize the “critters in our lives.”