Tuesday, June 17, 2008

my dog in the newspaper!

my dog, music, is the pretty one looking directly at the camera and posing. this was in today's ny post.

ON any given Sunday at the Church of the Holy Trinity on the Upper East Side, the choir sings a melodic hymn while one congregant chimes in with an enthusiastic jangle of his collar.

He's Music, a golden retriever and regular parishioner. And he's not the only dog in attendance; he's joined by four fellow canines and their human counterparts as they all celebrate in harmony.

Dogs have come a long way - once made to stay outside, they're welcome at some stores, hotels, boutiques. And now, church.

While dogs have

traditionally been allowed in churches for the Blessing of the Animals each October, many congregations are now welcoming canines at weekly services.

"It started because a parishioner was sick one weekend and felt like she could either take her dog for a walk or go to church, but not both," says the Rev. Michael Phillips, rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity.

"Then she thought, 'Why not combine them?' and she brought her dog to church. It's been happening ever since."

Music's owner

Jennifer Goodnow understands how some outsiders might be surprised by the multispecies congregation.

"I met a newcomer once who started going to the 8 o'clock service, and she thought it was a service for the blind because there were so many dogs," says Goodnow.

The majority of dog-toting parishioners claim they bring their pets to church as family members, rather than guests. "We're pretty active in this church," says Pam Synk, a Holy Trinity parishioner for more than 15 years and owner of Goldie, a yellow Lab.

"You start becoming more active when you're pulled in by your children. You try to make it a fun, family place for them, and the dog is part of our family, so we all go together."

What does the nonpet-owning population think about the canine addition? Phillips says that in his three years as rector, he has heard only one complaint, from a parishioner who suffered from allergies to pet dander. Otherwise, the animals have been welcomed with open arms.

"You come to church to have good thoughts, not be cross," says Kit Bradshaw, a 90-year-old dog-free congregant.

There's even potential for pup proselytizing. "Rocco is my neighbor's dog," says Goodnow, pointing to the Boston terrier sprawled in the aisle. "He is culturally Jewish but not practicing. I think he's ripe for conversion because every time I take him, he just stares at the altar with his jaw open. He is so into it."

Rocco's conversion will have to wait for another day, because the Mass has come to an end.

The choir has paraded down the center of the church in a final, thunderous song. The altar boys followed behind, and as the clergy came to the end of the aisle, each reached down in acknowledgement of their furriest congregants with pats on the head.

1 comment:

Ark Lady said...

Nice photo. Blessings and pet church goers have been on the increase precisely how you described...more demand. I wrote a book about the trends. You can read excerpts online if you'd like at blessingoftheanimals.com.