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Church in Los Angeles opens doors to dogs

When the Rev. Tom Eggebeen took over as interim pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church three years ago, attendance was dwindling.

So Eggebeen decided to make dogs welcome at God’s house — by way of a 30-minute service complete with individual doggie beds, canine prayers and an offering of dog treats.

According to an Associated Press report, he hopes it will reinvigorate the church’s connection with the community, provide solace to elderly members and attract new worshippers who are as crazy about dogs as they are about  God.

Eggebeen said many Christians love their pets as much as human family members and grieve just as deeply when they suffer — but churches have been slow to recognize that love as the work of God.

“When we love a dog and a dog loves us, that’s a part of God and God is a part of that. So we honor that,” he explained.

Allowing dogs at services is a practice gaining a foothold nationwide — one that serves to boost attendance and address the spirituality of pets and the deeply felt bonds that owners form with their animals.

Laura Hobgood-Oster, a religion professor at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, says she’s found a growing number of congregations holding regular pet blessings, and more holding pet-friendly services as well.

“It’s the changing family structure, where pets are really central and religious communities are starting to recognize that people need various kinds of rituals that include their pets,” she said. “More and more people in mainline Christianity are considering them to have some kind of soul.”


Comment from sarahkate
Time November 5, 2009 at 1:15 pm

I cannot imagine why it took the “modern” church so long to figure this out.

St. Francis of Assissi had it pegged centuries ago.

So did another saint, St. Roche, patron saint of dogs.

A lot of churches today seem to have gotten so far away from a true commitment to spirituality that they are just another political group clamoring for attention and money (IMHO).

John if you haven’t seen this yet, check out this sweet contemplative song at http://www.godanddog.org

Comment from Anne’n’Spencer
Time November 5, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Well, I never do this, but I’m gonna do it. St. Roch:


I always have a rosary or two around dedicated to St. Roch. His story is that he was stricken with plague while on a pilgrimage in Rome, after spending quite a while caring for those who were sick. He went into a forest to avoid infecting anyone else and was found there, very ill, by a dog. The dog brought food to him each day and stayed with him until he had recovered. Images of St. Roch always depict him in the company of his dog, who looks pretty much like an Italian greyhound.

Other saints closely associated with animals are St. Hubert (dogs, hounds in particular); St. Gertrude of Nivelles (cats), and St. Martin of Tours (horses). The patron saint of journalists is St. Francis de Sales.

Comment from mircea
Time November 5, 2009 at 3:37 pm

As a veterinarian doctor I detest what this so called pastor is doing. No wonder his church is dead .

Comment from mircea
Time November 5, 2009 at 3:40 pm

This is a clear situation of animal abuse. How could somebody force religion down the throat of a dog? .

Comment from sarahkate
Time November 5, 2009 at 5:38 pm

“veterinarian doctor” Mircea? Got some doubts here about that…but specifically what do you “detest”? Why do you question the calling of the churchman with “so called pastor” as a description? Could you please explain yourself? Is there something we’re missing about including our wonderful dogs at a place of worship? I’m puzzled by your post!

Comment from Jenifer
Time November 5, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Well I’m not much one for organized religion but in this case for John’s sake I think I’ll schedule a little heavenly petition session with the patron saint of journalists.

Comment from Leslie
Time November 8, 2009 at 8:25 pm

Sheesh, churches must be desperate! What a stupid idea. Don’t these morons know that their precious Bible takes a dim view of dogs? Is not even church safe from the intrusion of these lobotomized wolves?? Hey, sheep (the owners) and wolves, (the dogs). The whole thing is stupid.