KEEDYSVILLE — Nina stood silently beside the pew, and her family, occasionally getting petted or kissed.
Winston sat quietly in the second pew with Jim Hanna, 75, of Keedysville.
Sam Spade arrived late and stood on the floor, between the legs of two women, and occasionally slapped the back of the pew with his wagging tail.
Hartley, still adjusting to church etiquette, howled occasionally during the Easter service.
Mount Vernon Reformed United Church of Christ, on South Main Street in Keedysville, had about 20 people and four dogs in attendance for the holiday service Sunday.
More than 30 dogs attended the Christmas Eve service, the Rev. Delancy Catlett said.
While the church advertised that dogs and cats were welcome at the holiday service, they are welcome every Sunday, Catlett said.
“A lot of people won’t come to church or don’t come to church simply because they’re very close to their pets and wherever they go, they like to take their pets,” Catlett said.
Gloria Leonard, 62, said it had been years since she had been to church because she didn’t want to leave the very active Sam Spade, a beagle, alone at home.
Leonard and her sister, Nancy, 60, both of Hagerstown, came to Sunday’s service after they saw an advertisement noting the service welcomed dogs and cats. So they brought along Sam.
“He’s like a child. We can’t leave him alone. He gets into everything,” Gloria Leonard said.
“I think this is absolutely amazing that there is a place that offers this kind of freedom and the opportunity to worship along with what is my family,” Leonard said. “I think we’re going to come a lot more often.”
Leslie and Ricky Hart brought Hartley, a black and tan coonhound who is about 6 1/2 months old.
“It was more about the dog that was here before that,” Leslie Hart said.
Roo, who died in January, was such a part of Hart’s life that she came along to church, Hart said.
“She would lay in the center and sleep,” Hart said.
Sometimes Roo visited Catlett during the service, going up on the pulpit and sitting with him, she said.
Hartley, still learning how to behave in church, sat with her parents at the edge of the chapel and joined in with a howl or bark occasionally during the service.
“She’s got the hound in her, as you heard,” Leslie Hart said.