Doug and Molly Strausbaugh have been members of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Tacoma for 26 years, and they haven’t missed a single pet blessing.
And now that their rabbits Magnum and Yukon Jack have been blessed, all of their pets have attended at least one such ceremony.
“We brought them because they’re the newest member of our family,” Doug Strausbaugh said.
The church always performs the blessing of the animals on the first Sunday of October to mark the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, said the Rev. Martin Yabroff, who has been at the church for a decade.
“I just like that it connects our Sunday experience with the rest of the week,” Yabroff said. “Pets are a part of our family seven days a week.”
Yabroff blessed more than two dozen cats, dogs and rabbits between the 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. services.
Francis is the patron saint of animals and the environment. It became customary for Catholic and Anglican churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals in conjunction with his feast day.
“The reflection was not only about St. Francis, but about how Jesus reminds us to look at the birds of the air and the lilies of the field because it will help with our stress,” Yabroff said.
John Hickman brought his 7-year-old basset hound, Sadie, to the service Sunday.
“I take her every year. I don’t think she’s missed any of them,” Hickman said. “She lost an eye a year ago from glaucoma but it hasn’t slowed her down any.”
Attending the St. Andrew’s pet blessing with Sadie was a tradition Hickman shared with his wife, Polly, before she died of cancer three years ago.