DeKALB – It was the second time Rhys Brall brought his two dogs to a pet blessing event at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
“They need all the help they can get,” Brall said with a laugh. With his wife, Jocelyn, he brought his two dogs, Suzy, a purebred beagle, and Kosmo, a labrador-golden retriever mix, to be blessed by the Rev. Stacy Walker-Frontjes. He also brought his son’s dog, Penny.
“Our children are gone, so they are our kids now,” Brall said.
Suzy, Kosmo and Penny were just three of the dogs Walker-Frontjes blessed at the 4th annual pet blessing. By the end of the day, Walker-Frontjes blessed 18 dogs, four cats, a rabbit, a fish and a guinea pig.
Walker-Frontjes said pets play an integral role in a family, and that they are recognized by God.
“God cares about and loves everything that God has created. That includes animals as well,” Walker-Frontjes said. “That’s why we ask for God’s blessings specifically on animals because God loves animals too.”
Brian and Trisha Wagner of DeKalb also love animals. They came out Sunday with their three cats: Oberon, a tabby; Cassiopeia, a tortoise shell cat; and Po, a black cat. They described the cats in the same way Brall described his dogs
“They are our doormen and our dining companions,” Trisha Wagner said. “And they put us to bed at night. They wake us up in the morning.”
Brian Wagner added, “We have a real heart for animals and animal rights.”
Walker-Frontjes said she is flexible with her animal blessings. Although it hasn’t happened yet, she said she is open to blessing livestock. She will even bless pictures of animals, as it might not be “practical” for the animal to come to the Sunday service.
And while the service caters to Christians, Walker-Frontjes said it is open to any person of any faith.
The service consists of Walker-Frontjes reading prayers of Thanksgiving and a prayer to St. Francis of Assisi, the patrol saint of animals and the environment. The church held its animal blessings on the first Sunday of October, as Oct. 4 is the feast day of St. Francis.
“He had a legendary affection for animals, and animals had a legendary affection for him,” Walker-Frontjes said in describing St. Francis. “He was known to preach his gospel, walking from town to town, and the birds would come and listen to him.”