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Tag: attendance

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.”

When a house of God becomes a house of Dog

Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the … dogs?

A handful of churches have found a new way to fill empty pews, catching on to what a lot of hotels and other business establishments have already figured out: When you let people bring their dogs, you get more people.

A recent USA Today article looked at a dog-friendly church service in Omaha at the Underwood Hills Presbyterian Church — one where some dogs took seats on the pews, others sprawled on the floor and a few seemed intent on being social. But all eventually settled down for the sermon.

“Just relax,” the Rev. Becky Balestri, 51, said to open the service. “It’s like having kids in church.”

At least two other U.S. churches, in New York and near Boston, also allow dogs at regular weekly services, the article said.

“I hadn’t been to church in many, many years, and this gave me a reason to come back with my friend,” said one churchgoer who hadn’t attended church regularly since about 1988.

Read more »

Chapter Two: Cute Knut’s loot

As the Berlin Zoo continued to make money off of Knut (pronounced kuh-NOOT), another zoo decided this year it deserved a piece of the action.

Tierpark Neumuenster animal park filed a lawsuit against the Berlin Zoo, saying that, in exchange for loaning Knut’s father, Lars, to the Berlin Zoo for breeding purposes, it deserved some of the profits the Berlin Zoo was raking in. Originally, the Berlin Zoo had promised the first surviving cub to them, the Neumuenster zoo claimed in the lawsuit.

While it wasn’t seeking Knut, the Neumuenster zoo argued it was entitled to some of the revenue. The lawsuit was later dropped and an out-of-court settlement reportedly reached.

By the time of this news report, Knut wasn’t so little anymore. He was up to 243 pounds — no longer exactly cuddly, but still drawing visitors.

A couple of months after it, Knut’s caretaker, Thomas Doerflein, who had bottle fed Knut as a cub and slept beside him at night, died, at 44, of a heart attack.

In effect, he was Knut’s daddy. Between his death, and the money-grubbing, Knut’s story was getting a little less heartwarming, but Knut himself remained fat, happy and secure in his home at the zoo.

Well, at least fat and happy.

Happy Knut Year? This story bears watching

We start with a happy song, for it was, mostly, a happy time — the Berlin Zoo had seen the birth of its first polar bear to survive infancy in 30 years.

Even though the cub was rejected by its mother, and had to be rescued with a fish net, and kept in an incubator for 44 days, and nursed through infancy by a loving human caretaker around the clock, Germany, and the world, thrilled to the sight of Knut. He was white and fluffy and cute. And little.

Some experts said it was a mistake to go to all the trouble — that zookeepers should let him die. But humans rallied in his support. A group of children protested at the zoo, holding up placards reading “Knut Must Live” and “We Love Knut.” The zoo was bombarded with emails, asking for the cub’s life to be spared.

The zoo took heed, and vowed to never harm Knut.

Born in late 2006, Knut was introduced to the world in March, 2007, at which time the Berlin Zoo — noting his public appeal — registered Knut as a trademark.

As Knut’s popularity soared, so did the zoo’s stock — and its attendance figures.

Other companies profited from Knut as well, by developing themed products — from ringtones to cuddly toys.

A toy company called Steiff produced several Knut-based plush toys, promising the money raised from the sale would be used to renovate the polar bear enclosure at the zoo. A candy company released “Cuddly Knut,” a raspberry-flavored gummy bear and pledged to donate a percentage of proceeds to the zoo as well.

There were happy songs written about Newt, like the one you’re hearing now, and Knut has also been the subject of books and movies. He appeared in March 2007 on the cover of the German Vanity Fair magazine, and lent his name to environmental causes, such as stopping global warming, which is threatening to send polar bears into extinction.

For cute little Knut, everything appeared headed to happily ever after.