Gig Harbor United Methodist’s blessing doesn't miss a bleat

Staff writerOctober 14, 2013 

Gizmo the pug probably didn’t know why she was at church Sunday, but with her tail furiously wagging, she sure was excited to be there.

“Do you want to meet the other dogs?” owner Barry Greenfield asked the almost 2-year-old dog, clad in a Seahawks bandanna and blue fleece that matched his sweatshirt. “We can do that.”

“Gizzy” was one of dozens of animals that came to be blessed Sunday at Gig Harbor United Methodist Church.

She ran to greet 7-year-old miniature schnauzer-West Highland terrier mix Andy on the church lawn, as the pets mingled before the outdoor blessing.

Pastor Jim Head-Corliss said it’s the first year the church has held such a blessing. Similar events at other venues usually take place around Oct. 4, St. Francis of Assisi’s feast day, to honor the Catholic saint’s love for all creatures.

The Gig Harbor congregation plans to hold the blessing annually, Head-Corliss said.

“Us Protestants, that was part of our history as well,” the pastor said. “There are just a lot of spiritual people who are also pet owners. We thought: ‘Let’s have a party for them.’ ”

When asked if he was nervous about what might happen with a mix of dogs, cats, livestock and other animals gathered outside the church, he laughed.

“You never know,” he said. “It’s like people, too, isn’t it? Get a bunch of us together and we might bark at each other. It might be easier (here); they’re on leashes and in carriers.”

Other than a brief snarl or two, the event seemed to go off without much trouble.

There was Russell, the 21-pound orange tabby cat who watched the commotion from inside his cage. And Ginger the Airedale terrier, who was shaking she was so excited to be with the other pets.

Pastor Jim blessed them all one by one during the ceremony, which was punctuated by barks and goat bleats.

He also invited everyone to call out the names of former pets at one point during the blessing; some brought pictures of animals they wanted to remember.

The family wrangling the most animals was probably 11-year-old Rylee Brown’s.
“Three goats, and a rooster, and a cat and a rabbit,” she said.

They didn’t have enough people to bring their two other goats, four pigs, three horses and other cat, she said. Her goat Calico, about a year old, munched on dandelions during the blessing, after racing up and down a hill by the church with Rylee and going nose to nose with a handful of pooches.

“I just think everything we have should be blessed that we can bring,” Rylee said. “We really like them.”

Fox Island United Church of Christ will have its 10th annual animal blessing beginning at 10 a.m. Oct. 27 at 726 Sixth Avenue Fi, said Neve Norton, who helped start the tradition there.

She and golden retriever-chow mix Baxter attended Sunday’s blessing.

The Fox Island church has had donkeys, chickens and possums before. It’ll be an extra adventure this year, Norton said: For the first time, they’re going to have the indoor blessing as part of their regular service.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268


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