The Rev. Michael Frost, pastor of Zion's Stone Church of New Ringgold, bowed his head, placed his hand on Cabot's four-year-old head and blessed him.
Cabot repaid him with a happy wag of his tail and a wide slurpy-tongue grin. The beautiful Newfoundland Lab was led away by his master, Dana Dreibelbis of Albrightsville. Cabot was one of 33 dogs who came to be blessed at The Blessing of the Animals service held at Trifecta Kennels in Gilbert.
All those who attended believe St. Francis of Assisi would have approved.
St. Francis of Assisi is known as the Patron Saint of Animals. The Blessing of the Animals services coincides as close as they can to St. Francis's Feast Day of Oct. 4.
Many of the stories that surround St. Francis involves his love of nature and animals. He preached to man and beast the universal ability and duty of all creatures to praise God and believed it was the duty of men to protect and enjoy nature as both the stewards of God's creation and as creatures ourselves.
"We came because it's the right thing to do," said Dreibelbis. "Cabot is a rescue dog and he needs blessings, just like all of us."
That appeared to be the general consensus of the owners of Rottweilers, Chihauhaus, Cocker Spaniels and various other breeds of dogs lined up for Pastor Frost to bestow blessings upon them.
"The scriptures say that God made us last and made us stewards of all the earth's plant life and animal life of the world. We've been hearing terrible stories in the news of cruelty to animals. So I thank you for those of you who have opened your homes to taking in rescue dogs," he addressed the pet owners that were present.
He invited those who brought their pets and those who brought ashes of their pets or collars/toys of pets who could not attend, to come forward and then he bestowed a blessing on each.
"Lucky needs all the prayers she can get," said Karen and Keith Gingrich of Kunkletown. Lucky, a six-year-old cocker spaniel has already had chemo, chiropractic and acupuncture treatments. They brought along Ethel, also a Cocker Spaniel.
Karen Conklin and her son, Ben and her mother, Ann Johnson, brought Poochie, a rescued part Corgi and part Chihauhau believing he also needed the blessings.
Terri and Dick Brown of Swiftwater thought it would be very nice to have Sarah, their 18-month old yellow lab, blessed.
Margie and Ed Emery of Jonas brought Casey, their 5-year-old Border Collie and Baxter, their 4 1/2-year-old Schnoodle. The dogs went to school at Trifecta and they are bordered there at times.
"We brought them because it's an opportunity for them to socialize with other dogs," said Margie.
Barbara Daskall of Brodheadsville brought Cali, a Doberman/Shepherd/Hound mix.
"Cali is a blood donor and does so much good for others that I thought she should be blessed," said Barbara.
For these dog owners, they already feel blessed to have these pets in their lives.
There is a bond between their animal companions. The Blessing of the Animals is a way for that bond of creation to be celebrated.