Do dogs go to heaven? A Central Saanich church might be paving the way for owners to meet up with their pets beyond the pearly gates.
Central Saanich United Church is holding a Blessing of the Animals Sunday, Aug. 25 at 10:15 a.m. In keeping with the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, Rev. Allan Saunders will be blessing pets and celebrating their contribution to owners’ well-being. Afterwards, owners will receive a certificate noting the endorsement.
St. Francis is one of history’s most famous animal lovers, writing in his Canticle of the Creatures, “All praise to you, Oh Lord, for all these brother and sister creatures.”
Saunders agrees with St. Francis’ sentiments and acknowledges that for many people, especially those living alone, pets can offer joy and companionship.
“The bond between person and pet is like no other relationship, because the communication between fellow creatures is at its most basic,” he says, adding, “Eye-to-eye, a person and his or her dog or cat, or a feathered or scaly friend – two creatures connecting.”
For frazzled owners seeking divine redemption for their naughty mutts, do not despair, all pets are welcome and can be brought in carriers, to keep them calm. But it is not only dogs that can receive a blessing. Saunders tells a story of a similar ceremony he conducted at his previous church, in downtown Victoria.
“A young woman came along and it looked like she had a tattoo on her arm. And then the tattoo moved. She wasn’t bringing her pet puppy, she was bringing her pet snake.”
With even serpents welcome, owners can feel comfortable bringing their pets and will have the opportunity to introduce each one to the congregation, prior to its blessing.
Asked if all dogs go to heaven, Saunders chuckles, but won’t be drawn, saying he’ll leave that for others to decide.
“What I would say is, something I’m personally appreciating more than a few decades ago is there is more and more of a sense that we co-exist with all of creation. Respect is central not only to one another as human beings, but respect for other species as well.”
Included at the gathering will be an update from Rev. Nancy O’Higgins about her ministry in Haida Gwaii. For more information on this or any of the church’s other events visit shadycreekuc.ca.