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Dozens of dogs — and two police horses — get dose of holiness at annual blessing

Pastor Ben Adams of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church blesses Addie, Erin Loris' Maltese Shih Tzu, in Printers Row Park on Sunday. Although dogs are most common, the church has blessed cats, horses, reptiles and even plants over the years. | Rahul Parikh/Sun-Times

Dogs need Jesus, too.

Thus, during a laying of the hands, accompanied by some scratching of the ears, several dozen canines received blessings Sunday morning at Printers Row Park in the South Loop.

“It’s the ‘Blessing of the Animals,” explained Pastor Ben Adams of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. “We almost wanted to call it the ‘Blessing of the Pets,’ but we don’t consider the patrol horses to be pets,” he said, gesturing to two mounted Chicago police horses. “They’re actually working animals.”

The annual event takes place near the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, which is Thursday.

“Sometimes we’ve had cats … a few reptiles,” Adams said. “People have brought plants in the past, which we always encourage. Plants are just as much a part of creation as well.”

This Sunday, though dogs were the main non-human recipients of holiness.

“My dog is 17 years old, so she’s pretty frail right now,” South Loop resident David D’Hansel said of his mutt, Bonnie. “I thought it was appropriate for her to be blessed. We found her at the shelter. She was born with no toes and was about to be euthanized. But we found her. She’s had a hard life and I’m not sure she’ll survive the year.”

Video by Rahul Parikh

Diana Marta is hardly a regular churchgoer, but she makes sure to attend the annual service with her mutt, Benji.

“He’s a rescue and he was a mess when I got him … worms, fleas, matted. About everything you could be,” she said.

The four-legged parishioners can make for an unpredictable service.

“There’s always some scuffles between dogs. There’s a lot of barking. There’s sometimes dogs that want to take communion … but it’s just a matter of rolling with it,” Adams said.

The event was co-hosted by Grace Episcopal Church.

“We want to recognize that God has created all things and made them holy,” said Adams, who’s never been bit during a blessing.

Dozens of dogs and a couple of horses showed up Sunday for the annual blessing of the animals. | Rahul Parikh/Sun-Times
Dozens of dogs and a couple of horses showed up Sunday for the annual blessing of the animals. | Rahul Parikh/Sun-Times