Leave it to animals to remind us of the important stuff. Animals, that is, and some caring folks. Starting with Connie Richards, Founder of Faithful Paws (a pet therapy program) and Senior Pastor Jim Flagg of Bellaire United Methodist Church.
Recently, the church, which sponsors Faithful Paws, held their annual Blessing of the Animals event and from all accounts, it’s growing by leaps and bounds. No pun intended. Everyone in the community was invited and as it turned out, on a perfect spring day.
Leave it to animals to remind us of the important stuff. Animals, that is, and some caring folks.
Under a cloudless sky, booths of rescue groups and pet care services outlined the parking lot. In its center a slew of water bowls were situated for the pets and, I noted, were constantly kept full by Boy Scouts, who, also passed out bottles of cold water to everyone.
Last year people brought more than pooches. Lizards, rabbits and birds were blessed too. All in — about 150. That’s a heap of prayin’.
Some brought photographs of their horses but this year, a few showed up in the flesh. Including two miniature ponies, Lady and Sugar Foot that made my heart melt just seeing them clomp up the sidewalk. Many times more by the end of the day.
Seeing “Thelma,” a basset hound, made me want to pick her up and take her home. “She’s not with Faithful Paws yet,” said the owner, “but we’re talking about it.” I got the impression that maybe we meant Thelma and her owner. Sweet. She’s therapy just sitting there, I thought.
“Bosco,” looked to be part boxer, part dachshund and maybe a little bullmastiff too. When I asked Cotton, his owner, she just smiled and said lovingly, “He’s a goofball.” Could’ve fooled me. In the long line of animals waiting to be blessed, ole Bosco was chillin’ out on the concrete — cool as a cucumber. Come to think of it, he’s a little shaped like one.
Wearing their formal vestments in 80-degree weather, Pastors Flagg and Connie McGehee beamed on seemingly, tireless — offering each animal (including stuffed ones) a special prayer.
In the world of calm though, “Teddy” is king. He’s a gorgeous Great Pyrenees. Looking at him with all that hair, you’d never guess he weighs only 100 pounds. Teddy looks you straight in the eyeballs. He’s a soul. Period. Like another dog I once knew. It’s no wonder Teddy’s one of the star Faithful Paws Therapy dogs.
Near the end of the event, I walked over to the registration booth wondering how many folks had attended. The number then was 181 and growing. “And that’s just the number of people who signed a registration card,” said the volunteer. (Meaning one person registers a family pet and/or pets on one card.) They estimated later some 225 pets or more had been blessed.
Even so, wearing their formal vestments in 80-degree weather, Pastors Flagg and Diane McGehee beamed on seemingly, tireless — offering each animal (including stuffed ones) a special prayer. Like the one said for Teddy’s teeth. “Worn down when his original owners crated him 18-20 hours a day,” explained owner Chris Woods.
After each blessing, a picture was taken courtesy of Nikky LaWell Photography. Good thing too — in more ways than one.
At an event like this one, photographs tell the story a lot better than words.
For more information about the Blessing of the Animals, visit www.bellaireumc.org and www.FaithfulPawsHouston.com.