Dog bless you!

October 3, 2011

Hi! If you enjoy the show “Dexter,” you may like my recaps over at the L.A. Times.

There are lots of fun, possibly ridiculous events you can attend with your dog if you live in Chicago. We’ve taken our greyhound to Dog Day at US Cellular Field, participated an Easter egg hunt, marched in the Sycamore Pumpkin Parade and met Santa Claus at a local bar. We don’t even bother telling ourselves that these events are for his enjoyment: we just like to go places with our dog and show him off and are the type of people who get a kick out of humiliating/celebrating our dog.

So there wasn’t too much discussion over whether or not we’d attend a pet blessing this weekend. I’ve been to one of these before, a long time ago, and it was very sweet. I’m not exactly an intensely religious person, but I have a soft spot in my heart for the saints, especially Francis. He’s the patron saint of animals and the environment (I’ve always thought of the Franciscans as the hippies of the Catholic world.) Like the Easter egg hunts and pet parades, a pet blessing is kind of silly but, if you’re an animal lover, is quite endearing as well. The blessing is like a holy heads up that animals are God’s creatures and are many humans’ only companions, so they deserve a little spiritual love.

My dog had a bit of a tough week, though. He stayed with my parents recently, and his internal clock got reset, so let’s just say that he got used to getting up and doing business in the morning at a certain time and continued to do so back at our house even when it wasn’t time yet. A good amount of Nature’s Miracle had to be deployed. Did Briscoe actually deserve to be blessed? On the other hand, maybe a visit to church would set him back on the right, pee-stain-free, path.

Yesterday morning it was gorgeous and sunny, a clear sign from above that it was a good day to get your dog blessed. We walked down to The Episcopal Church of the Atonement and took a seat on their lovely lawn. Briscoe’s ears perked up as the bells rang, signaling the end of Mass, and the lawn filled up (we were allowed to take him inside for Mass if we wanted to, but ours is a dog who likes to mark his territory a lot, and I think you get a one-way ticket to hell if your dog pees inside a church.) Briscoe is miniature-horse-sized, so he received a lot of attention, which he soaked up.

I’d say at least 15 dogs were in attendance, and a few cats as well (including this one who had no eyes, which just melted my heart--and I am pretty stony-hearted when it comes to cats, thanks to one in our house who has made a steadfast resolution to pee on the floor and nowhere else. We didn’t even consider taking her to be blessed, since she is a lost cause.)

At the first pet blessing I attended, the priest blessed all the pets in one shot, but this time each animal got its own benediction. Briscoe got sprinkled with holy water and stood still and didn’t embarrass us. “He needs this,” I confided in the priest. “Oh, look at him! He’s a saint!” the priest said. I may need to become a parishioner of this church, even though I’m a Roman Catholic. I’m just that easily swayed, when it comes to my dog.

I’m not going to thank God for the fact that Briscoe hasn’t peed in the house since then (God is too busy helping people win football games and Video Music Awards), but I bet the blessing didn’t hurt. If you’re like me and enjoy toting your pets around town, or simply want to check out something new/weird/sweet/funny, there’s still time to get your pet blessed in (and around) Chicago. It might be just the thing to do for your dog before you do something to him like this.