"How do you know dogs go to heaven?"
That is exactly what Candy Jablonski painfully asked herself less than a week after having to put her longtime companion dog to sleep because of illness.
Dave Reynolds of Appling waits for the beginning of the Blessing of the Blessing of the Animals cermeony with his two macaws, Harley, a blue and gold, and Oscar, a red wing. The ceremony was Saturday at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Mrs. Jablonski and her husband, Dr. Eric Jablonski, visited the animal shelter just a couple of weeks later and found Amber and Opal, sister yellow Labrador retrievers, that helped fill the void.
"It is like having babies all over again. You are up in the middle of the night," Mrs. Jablosnki said happily.
The sisters got their own special blessing Saturday when the Jablosnkis brought them to the third annual Blessing of the Animals ceremony by the Church of the Holy Comforter, at Savannah Rapids Pavilion. The service celebrated animals as God's creatures in honor of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the Catholic patron saint of animals and ecology.
Amber and Opal were two of more than 100 animals attending the service. The Rev. Cynthia Taylor, pastor of the church, said prayers and blessings for the animals before whispering a prayer to each and every one, which included "a shiny coat, wet nose, good health and long life."
"This is my favorite thing I get to do as a priest that the church does," Taylor said. "It really goes out into the community."
Pets of all kinds were blessed including cats, dogs and even two colorful macaws owned by Dave Reynolds of Appling. Taylor blessed 8-week-old puppies, a 17-year-old veteran pet and some pets that were no longer alive.
Mike and Ginny Sellars brought their Golden Retriever, Emily, to the service along with a photo of her sister, Alex, who died suddenly in June. Alex's death hit the couple hard, and Mrs. Sellars was in tears after Taylor said a prayer for both dogs.
"Emily gets us through it," Mrs. Sellars said. "She is the strong one. We just love her."
This is the first time the Sellarses have attended a service like this, but plan to bring their animals every year from now on, Mr. Sellars said.
The Jablonskis brought Sandy Demos, a friend from Wisconsin, with them to the service to help take photos and share the special event. Demos was astounded at the effect the animals had on owners standing in line; people did not get agitated or pushy though the line for individual blessings was long. Each owner petted other pets while their own sat next to them.
"Dogs bring you down to a whole new pace," Demos said. "See what dogs do to people's hearts."
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