Church service goes to the dogs

Canines, felines and their humans take part in Blessing of the Animals

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Dogs of all sizes made new friends the Church of the Hills Blessing of the Animals service. A couple cats attended, but they kept to themselves.

The furry friends and their human companions gathered in the church’s parking lot, enjoying the sunshine and being together. They came for many reasons: to have their pets blessed to reconnect with the Rev. Dee Cooper, who was a pastor at the church several years ago, and more.

Cooper used the story of Noah and the Ark to discuss the importance of animals, how he brought them in pairs onto the boat to be saved from the flood.

“It was the intentionality of Noah to preserve all of the species,” she said, “to keep their kind alive on the face of all the Earth. God wanted to preserve what God had made.”

She talked about the symbiotic relationship between humans and pets: People help pets have their best life, while pets help their owners be more compassionate and provide unconditional love.

“We see animals as inferior,” she told the congregation, “but they teach us about living and loving. They show us curiosity, wonder and connecting with different species. Compassion is not limited. If you care about animals, you will care about other species, too.”

Larry LaGrange of Evergreen brought his golden retriever Bogey, who is “over par,” because “he needs to be blessed. He’s a good dog.”

Newlyweds Tanya and Trent Sutton, who now live in Golden, brought Daisy, 15-1/2, and Belle, 9 months. The couple wanted to attend because they have known Cooper for a long time, and she performed their wedding ceremony.

Maudie Lewis and Arra Williams of Little Rock, Arkansas, were visiting friends in Evergreen, and they attended to have their horse Whiskey, who had recently died, blessed.

Church officials said a variety of animals have attended past events: horses, snakes and more exotic creatures.

For Cooper, the Blessing of the Animals service is more than paying tribute to pets. She has spent many years studying animals and their relationship to each other and to humans.

“Animals invite us to a greater, deeper experience with God,” she explained.

She has a business called Adventures for the Wild at Heart where she connects people with animals in the wild or in rescue.

Cooper likes the Blessing of the Animals because it invites people to church who might not usually go. They might attend if their animals are welcome.

Cooper reminded the human companions that animals — whether domesticated or wild — deserve a special place in our hearts, noting, “We all love our warm and furry friends.”

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