This afternoon, I had the very great pleasure of attending the first pets’ service at St. John’s Church in my home town. As my partner and I arrived, I saw that the person in charge, resplendent in his white robe, was Vicar Phil. I remember that he was very nice to the children and me when we were all in Oliver! together, so I knew we were in safe paws. Some chairs had been put out, near the War Memorial, in a circle for the partners, and the grass was lovely and springy for the pets to recline on. I counted around fourteen dogs, including myself, and two delicious-looking (sorry) rabbits, so a good crowd of us in all. I’d have liked to see a few people there with roast chickens (although not commonly kept as pets), but perhaps that might have led to trouble among so many dogs and the churchyard is no place for an affray.
Vicar Phil began with wise words about pets and other animals in the world and we sang three lovely hymns (all principally about God’s animal kingdom), ably accompanied by Bob “Fingers” Wheeler on his jolly accordion. I joined in with the singing, and so did some of my fellows. We heard a reading by Alfred Brill and his partner Catherine from the book of Genesis, about God creating the living things on the Earth and Vicar Phil led some beautifully-worded prayers, with others read by Jackie Connell (who also had an organisational role in the event). It was all very appropriate in my view. We thanked God for the love and blessings that we pets give and receive. The assembled partners also prayed for all the animals in the world today who suffer, and said sorry to God on behalf of the humans that abuse and neglect innocent beasts. We also thanked God for the humans who work to save and care for those less fortunate creatures.
We all put our names in the visitors’ book at the end and there was a collection for the RSPCA, which I think was an excellent idea. Vicar Phil seemed to imply that this could be an annual event, which I hope might be true. It was a genuinely lovely and very touching occasion. Everyone (canine or otherwise) felt included and special. The nice weather helped, but my partner and I would have enjoyed it just as much had the rain been pouring down. I tried very hard not to say rude words, but I’m afraid a few inadvertently slipped out – but I needn’t have worried. Every bark (and whatever the rabbit alternative to a bark is) was welcomed and smiled on by Vicar Phil.
There were no fights, savage bloodlettings or horrendous gorings. In fact, the humans behaved themselves very well indeed.
I was very pleased to note that we did not say ANY prayers for Stags or Squirrels.