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Pet blessing draws ‘ruff’ crowd

Frank the Pug came from Ashland, Ky., maybe a little unsure of what exactly was about to happen.

After all, his humans, the Barlow family, usually leave him at home when they come to church.

But Saturday, Christ Episcopal Church in Ironton threw open its doors (actually its garden gate) for its second annual Blessing of the Animals and for once, Frank got to come along.

“We were going to bring our pet rat,” Alison Barlow said — an idea that caused a bit of trepidation for Christ Episcopal pastor, the Rev. Sallie Schisler. As the Barlows crossed Park Avenue toward the church, Schisler exclaimed quietly, “These are the people who are bringing a rat.”

In the end, Smeddy the rat stayed home but Frank got a blessing and made a new friend out of Schisler when she made her way around the garden for an individual moment with each animal.

The purpose of the pet blessing was to acknowledge the role pets play in the lives of humans and to thank the God who created them.

In one prayer, Schisler prayed, “O Lord, give us humility to thank you for the creation of animals who can show affection which sometimes puts us to shame. Enlarge our respect for these your creatures, of whom we are guardians. And give us a sense of responsibility toward all your creation, for Jesus Christ’s sake, Amen.”

Saturday’s pet blessing was one day before the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

Among those blessed Saturday was one of Lawrence County’s two K-9 units, Max, a Belgian Malinois, who works alongside Deputy Randy Rogers.