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Tag: prayers

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.

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Dog bless each and every one

    Today being Sunday, we bring you an excerpt from the soon to be released book “Dog Blessings: Poems, Prose, and Prayers Celebrating Our Relationship with Dogs.”
    Edited by June Cotner and published by New World Library, the book honors the special connection that exists between humans and their canine friends — and comes out just in time for St. Francis of Assisi’s feast day.
    October 4 is the special day that dogs, cats, horses, even hamsters will be led to churches around the world for an annual ceremony called “Blessing of the Pets.”

    Ace and I celebrated early with a few poems, prayers and short essays that the book features — from Rudyard Kipling’s “The Power of the Dog” to Janet Lombard’s more contemporary “Furry Shrink.”

    The book, which comes out Oct. 1, features chapters devoted to puppyhood, parting, the bond between human and dog, aging, devotion and a final section with prayers and blessings.

    One of my favorites was “Lessons,” by Joanne Hirase-Stacey:

If I greeted everyone happily
     Instead of eyeing with distrust
If I didn’t pass judgment
     But accepted all
If I listened intently
     With understanding in my eyes
If I brought comfort
     All the time, no matter what
If I loved unconditionally
     Without reservation
If I lived life more simply
     Instead of worrying so much
If I played tirelessly
     And didn’t work so hard
If I made people smile
     Just by my presence in the room
If I experienced true joy
     At the little things in life
Then I’d be the perfect friend
     Just like my dog

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