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Blessing animals at Hagerstown church 'the right thing to do'

October 06, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- A pastor's words during a final prayer Sunday afternoon at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church were drowned out by Apache, who appeared distraught about some passing vehicles.

No one minded his antics as he tried to lunge toward the street, since they were gathered to hear a blessing just for Apache, a 10-month-old boxer, and other four-legged, furry family members. 

"It's just the right thing to do," Todd Roberts said as Apache tugged at his leash, pulling Roberts every which way. "People need (to be) blessed. So do animals."

Another member of Roberts' household, an 18-month-old boxer named Audrey, also was blessed by Pastor Robert McIntyre on Sunday.

The day celebrating St. Francis, who is recognized as being a lover of animals, was Saturday, McIntyre said.

McIntyre, who arrived at the church in June, said the congregation hasn't had a blessing of its animals for several years, but he hopes it will now be an annual event.

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"We take our animals for granted," McIntyre said. "But God blesses us with them, or them with us, either way."

Sunday's afternoon blessing was a chance to "bring animals together and show them we care," he said.

McIntyre went around to each family and its animals, addressing the animal by name and asking God to keep the pet in His care through all the days of its life.

Shepy, a 6-month-old Maltipoo, came to Jim and Ruth Grove when he was just 7 weeks old, via a plane from Arkansas. They got Shepy from a breeder who raises the cross between a Maltese and poodle, Ruth Grove said.

"He's a part of the family. He is our family now that our kids are grown up and gone," she said.

Shepy made friends with two of the dogs beside him during the brief prayer service and blessing, Ruth Grove said.

Two of the pets, known as Wild and Crazy, were not four-legged and furry. Wild and Crazy are hermit crabs.

In their honor, when those gathered sang "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," the lyrics were changed to include "He's got the hermit crabs and guinea pigs in his hands."

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