Rescue Dogs Doubly Blessed
by Allan Appel | Oct 1, 2012 12:28 pm
Posted to: Religion, Wooster Square
Copper was on his way to doggy heaven when Kendra Havens-McColgan rescued him from the hell of a kill shelter in Tennessee two months ago. On Sunday, Copper got a second blessing—this one for a sense of “calm.”
Copper was one of a dozen dogs, one cat, and one stuffed “faith ant toy” who received a formal blessing fro Rev. Alex Dyer at the annual blessing of the animals at the Church of St Paul & St. James. Of all the animals blessed in a festive and barky Sunday service in Wooster Square, at least six of the dogs had been abused, traumatized, or had been facing death in shelters that put to sleep dogs they cannot place.
About 40 humans attended with their animal companions at the service which occurs all around the world in connection with the feast day of St. Assisi, which this year falls on Oct. 4.
Havens-McColgan said she asked Rev. Dyer to inspire 8-month-old Copper with calm and obedience. In his eagerness to please, Copper is “sweet and affectionate.” He wants to be best friends with her cat named Zoe, “but she wants nothing to do with him,” she reported.
Zoe the cat prefers not to travel and so wasn’t in attendance, said Havens-McColgan, who teaches high school math at Hyde School of Health Sciences and Sports Medicine. So she brought a photo for Rev. Dyer to bless instead.
After the four-legged visitors acclimated to the pews and Anita Bellmore’s chocolate Lab Meggie (also a rescue dog) practiced singing “All God’s Creatures,” Dyer invited the animal guests to go outside to the church steps.
Sara Staley asked simply for peace in the life of her dog, Lua, a 2-year-old American Eskimo breed. She said there’d been some trauma in her life, which explained why Lua was shivering and had to be held in her owner’s arms even as Dyer evoked an image of the peaceable kingdom.
“She’s very afraid of large dogs,” said Staley, a Yale Divinity School student who helps to run the church’s Loaves and Fishes food pantry.
“Animals are part of God’s creation,” said Dyer. After each day’s work in creating the world, God pronounced it good. “So [in blessing animals] we’re just affirming,” he added.
On the steps, Dyer led the quadruped and biped assembly in prayers for “all animals in captivity, abused, or exploited” and in remembrance of animals who had “companioned us and who have died.”
Andy Ross was a little late for services, but he and his black Lab Marty quickly made themselves at home in St. Paul & St. James’s pews. Marty is also a dog blessed by previous human intervention.
Ross said he saw a sign placed on a garage in Wooster Square that the dog had been abandoned. No longer. Ross and he are now best pals.
Ross said he was not surprised that so many rescue dogs were in attendance. “It’s that kind of neighborhood,” he said.
After Marty received a blessing for good health, he and the other animals seemed to settle in and quiet down during a reading from the Book of Esther.
Marty also found the church’s polished wooden floor cool and inviting.
In a first for his church, Dyer said he had invited the New Haven Animal Shelter to bring several of its animals to be blessed, but arrangements could not be worked out in time, he said.
He plans to involve the shelter in next year’s blessing of the animals.
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