All Saints’ Episcopal Church offers 17th annual Blessing of the Animals

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – From furry bunnies to short-hair cats, from dogs in simple collars to pooches sporting sassy sweaters, animals of all kinds were blessed at All Saints’ Episcopal Church on Sunday.
The 17th Annual Blessing of the Animals brought out many four-legged – and even a few three-legged – animals and their owners to the church. As the humans prayed and read from scripture, the dogs added in their own sound for an orchestra of woofs, barks and howls.
Two of the biggest pooches to receive blessings were mom Maggie and her son Hershey, both Bernese Mountain Dogs. Maggie weighs about 90 pounds, but her 18-month old son Hershey already outweighs her at 110 pounds, said their owners, Kathy and Kenny Cook.
“They’re really pretty laid back,” Kathy said. “Even as a puppy, they’re laid back.”
As Rev. Paul Stephens blessed Hershey, the big dog gave him a quick kiss on the nose.
The two dogs were a curious pair, and they each took turns sniffing at Thumper, a large white rabbit owned by Donna Timmons and her 11-year-old son Garrett.
Thumper sat quietly in his cage, which sat atop a Radio Flyer wagon, and Donna Timmons carried her 2-year-old dog Penny and had her 8-year-old dog Tracy on a leash. The two dogs had been blessed before, but it was Thumper’s first blessing.
She said her eldest son brought Thumper home a few months ago, saying he “accidentally won” the bunny at the flea market.
Penny and Tracy have gotten used to sharing space with Thumper, Timmons said, but Tracy “still wants to eat her,” she said.
The Tupelo-Lee Humane Society brought out two pooches, both sporting glittery collars and bright bandanas, in hopes of finding the pair loving homes.
Kerra, a Pointer mix, has been at the shelter since March, and Jersey, a Greater Swiss Mountain mix, has been there for a few weeks.
Stephens said the Blessing of the Animals gives pets and their owners a chance to get closer to God.
“It gives the owners a chance to connect with their animals in a very special way. It’s a chance for them to thank God for their animals being their companions and friends,” he said. “They’re excited about God being in their lives through their pets.”
sheena.barnett@journalinc.com