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Animals are blessed

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NORWOOD — Frankie took his blessing in stride Sunday, standing serenely while his owners talked about him.

“I think he’s a changed dog since the blessing,” owner Kimberly A. Peck, Brushton, joked.

Frankie, a Boston terrier, was among four other dogs, two cats and two other pets represented by photographs that were sprinkled with holy water by the Rev. Kathryn M. Boswell, rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.

The service acknowledges that animals belong to God, which makes a gift of them to their owners, she said.

“We bless them because we hope God will be good to them because we love them,” the Rev. Mrs. Boswell said.

The service usually is conducted near the Feast of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals. “It has a long history in the church,” the Rev. Mrs. Boswell said.

Nancy A. Levison, Norwood, brought Olivia, her 4-year-old Maine Coon cat, and a photograph of 13-year-old Nikita, a German shepherd whose hip problems made it difficult for her to come. Helen I. Harris, Norwood, brought Sara, her yellow Labrador retriever, but her uncooperative cat, Angie, came in the guise of a photo.

“It’s nice to have them blessed,” Mrs. Harris said. “It’s just a good feeling.”

Katsu, a 5-year-old Japanese Chin, just had surgery, said his owners, Carol Paulsen and Salvatore J. DiGirolomo, Potsdam.

“I said, ‘Let’s get him blessed,’” Ms. Paulsen said.

The service in front of the church was brief.

“We do not bless animals to make them holy. We bless them because they are holy and worthy of blessing,” The Rev. Mrs. Boswell said. “St. Francis believed that all nature reflected God, that you could see the beauty of God in all creation. He loved all creatures great and small and treated them like family, just as we do our own pets. That is why we bring our brother and sister animals here today.”

The blessing provided wishes an animal might appreciate.

“May your days be full of sunshine and good things to eat. May your owners treat you always with respect and kindness,” the Rev. Mrs. Boswell said. “And may you continue to praise God, your creator, by simply being what you are.”

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