The Barking Blessed

More faith leaders are performing blessings for dogs, cats, and G-d’s other creatures.

by Michael Croland

As Shabbat drew to a close on Saturday, May 8, about 20 members of Temple Emanu-El of West Essex in Livingston, New Jersey, assembled for a traditional havdalah service to welcome the new week. Rather untraditionally, though, the ceremony occurred in the synagogue’s parking lot and was interrupted by six dogs barking, play-fighting, and rolling around in the grass.

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Dogs Go To Church

Michael Croland: Maryann Fuchs does not know why she takes her dogs to Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church year after year for the St. Francis Blessing of the Animals. The October 3 ceremony, which lasted less than a half-hour, drew a crowd of about 20 leashed dogs, two cats in carriers, and animal lovers from the surrounding Astoria area.

At first thought, Fuchs seemed certain that 9-year-old Pomeranian Patrick, 8-year-old Schnauzer Joseph, and 1-year-old Schnauzer Timothy do not understand what takes place at the ceremony. Fuchs said that her dogs do not behave better or become more pious after they are blessed. “No, because they’re dogs—they don’t have souls,” she said. “It’s nice, St. Francis—but they don’t know.” Continue Reading →