A prayer for the pets in Dillon | SummitDaily.com

A prayer for the pets in Dillon

Caddie Nath
summit daily news

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

Hap was born with only three legs. But the 10-year-old golden retriever has never let hardship dampen his spirit.

While still young, he was diagnosed with cancer and given only a few months to live. That was five years ago, and Hap, short for Happy, has stayed by his owner, Marsha Harvey’s side through the loss of her husband and the addition of another golden retriever, Hope, to the family.

“He’s my miracle,” Harvey said. “And she’s my spoiled brat.”

Sunday, all three of them gathered with other community members and their pets at Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church in Dillon for pet blessing.

The short, informal ceremony, offered in memory of St. Francis, the patron saint of creatures, has become a tradition for faithful animal owners in Summit County over the last nine years.

“They’re special parts of our lives,” said Tina Oberheide, who brought her schnauzer, Clover, and her yellow canary, Dandelion, to be blessed Sunday. “They’re part of our family community and, to some extent, part of our faith community too. It’s nice that our faith community recognizes that, the importance of our pets.”

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Approximately a dozen dogs, an elderly cat named Earl, Dandelion, the canary, and Sally, a small insect caught by a Sunday school student received blessings during Sunday’s ceremony on the north lawn of the church.

Pastors Joseph Holub and Darlene Muschett blessed each of the animals individually and said special prayers for some of the pets dealing with particular challenges, including Nestle, an agitated lab, and Bandit, a 5-month-old dog still struggling with house training.

“For me, it’s not only fun to do, but I think of it as a way to reach out to the community,” Muschett said. “We’re all God’s people and we’re all God’s creatures. We do it like a fun community outreach.”

The pets slept or played in the sunshine during Sunday’s service in their honor, which included hymns, prayers for animals and a short discussion of both the work of Saint Francis and a passage from the Book of Genesis, which, Muschett said, directs humans to care for all animals.

Saint Francis of Assisi, a 12th-century friar, is said to have deeply loved and blessed animals as God’s creations.