• 20201120-111242-news-blessinganimals-071520

About two dozen pet owners attended a service at United Methodist Church of Evergreen on Sunday to pay homage to their pets.

In a Blessing of the Animals service, which honors St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, the Rev. Deb Olenyik told participants that they gathered to celebrate the joys of having pets in their lives.

“We appreciate all they bring to us,” she said, thanking God for the companionship pets provide.

Rather than a hands-on blessing, owners and their animals — in this case all canines — sat in socially distanced chairs, and Olenyik blessed each in turn from the lectern: “Bless, oh Lord, Patrick, and fill our hearts with thanksgiving for its being.”

Patrick, an 11 ½-year-old standard poodle, belongs to Maureen and Kurt Hornbecker of Evergreen. Patrick, who was born on St. Patrick’s Day, is still very active despite his advanced age, Maureen said.

Of the service, Maureen said: “It feels so good to be able to identify with other parishioners who have dogs and to learn what kind of dogs they have.”

The Blessing of the Animals has been a staple at UMCE for at least 20 years, said Terry Vogt from the congregation, and it’s a popular service.

No cats were in the audience Sunday, though someone said one year, someone brought a pet chicken.

Olenyik also blessed a boy’s pet guinea pig named Snape, who did not attend the service.

Vogt supplied the before-service music with a fitting theme: “Hound Dog,” “Alley Cat,” “How Much is That Doggie in the Window” and “Red, Red Robin.” Sometimes he had a barking chorus joined him.

Waiting patiently for the service to start was Roger Quayle of Indian Hills with his 11-month-old golden retriever/Labrador retriever Hans. Hans was antsy to meet the other attendees.

“I think this (service) is wonderful,” Quayle said. “I’ve told my wife for years they should have a church for dogs.”

Contact Deb Hurley Brobst at deb@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1041.