ARMS FULL: Margaret Bryant, of Lismore, needed the help of her friend Kath Hall, of Lismore, to handle her dogs Wilson, Randy,
ARMS FULL: Margaret Bryant, of Lismore, needed the help of her friend Kath Hall, of Lismore, to handle her dogs Wilson, Randy,

Pet blessing a howling success

By NERIDA BLOK

nblok@northernstar.com.au

TANDY, Randy, Cossie and Wilson provided enthusiastic vocals during the Blessing of the Pets service at St Andrew's Anglican Church in Lismore yesterday.

But a little over-excitement at the start of the special annual St Francis Day event saw the three Jack Russells and chihuahua removed from the designated 'dog area' to a back pew.

"They don't go out anywhere so they get too excited," said owner Marelle Bryant, of Lismore.

Eventually the foursome settled down among new friends and barked along to the hymns, including All Creatures Great and Small.

The brief, informal 9.30am service attracted more than 40 children and adult pet owners.

Animals ranged from cats to canaries.

Reverend Viv Hoskins said the service was a relaxed way to focus on some more serious issues such as the important emotional role pets played in the people's lives.

"And that church can be bright, relevant and meaningful to people of all ages," he said.

Assistant priest Alan Shaw raised his eyebrow as he helped arrange anxious animals and owners into suitable seating.

"It will be an interesting one," he said over the top of barking dogs and laughing worshippers. "We have them once a year and it's good fun. We get a lot of people who don't normally come to church."

It was first time to church for border collie Bailey. His owner Natalie Bromley, of Lismore, said she thought it was a great opportunity for a church to be more accessible.

"And a bit light-hearted but still with all the great things church brings," she said.

"I knew she'd never been to church so I didn't want to miss out on the chance."

Matt Baskerville and his brother Jake, of Goonellabah, brought with them their three guinea pigs Mully, Shorty and Mosie. Their other brother Brad brought his cockatiels.

And Mia Cripps Clark, 10, of Gundurimba, made sure her three-year-old long-haired chihuahua Nip arrived for his blessing in style.

Nip was tucked into a backpack on the back of a low-set three-wheeler bike.



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