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Animals blessed at Bark Park
Mimi is a golden-colored terrier with a sweet little face, something like a blonde Toto. And she is blessed.
Father Austin Mansfield wet his thumb with holy water, pressed it to Mimi's face and patted her fondly. “Bless O God, this your creature Mimi, and all that are involved in her care and protection.”
Mansfield is a man of God, and Mimi, a doggy of faith.
Mansfield, the rector at Yuma's Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church, celebrated St. Francis' loving respect of animals, and animals' bond with man, Thursday with a Blessing of the Animals service at the dog park off Pacific Avenue.
Wearing a scarf decorated with images of Noah and the creatures aboard the ark, he officiated a brief program extolling the virtues of pets and how they not only remind their people to love, but to be faithful in a similar and humble way to God. Then he knelt with each dog individually (plus one young attendant's teddy bear) and gave the blessing.
“When we hit a certain age, we think we can do it on our own, we don't need to be dependent on anybody anymore,” he said in his sermon. “But when we look at our dogs and our puppies, they just smile at us. They know — we are the source of their food. We're the source of their water, we're the source of everything that they need and they come right to us, and sit down on our lap and sit at our feet and recognize that.”
Oct. 4 is the feast date for St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals (that statue of the monk often seen in gardens, offering birdseed — that's St. Francis), and blessings of furry friends are common at churches everywhere.
Some of the animals sat through Mansfield's service with their owners, sniffing at the dusk air. Others belonged to passers-by enjoying the dropping temperatures. There was Jasmine, Mansfield's own Chihuahua mix; Max, a fluffy, silver and white Shih Tzu; Floyd, a black Chihuahua with a graying muzzle; Lola, a bright-eyed, fawn-colored pit bull.
All animals were welcome, but with this year's service being held at a dog park, only dogs came out. Mansfield has blessed other beasts, though, when he held the event at the church office. The most unique one: a macaw named Tic-Toc.
Linda Purvis brought her miniature pinscher Tawny and her redbone coonhound Piper for prayer. Both dogs are now about 9 years old. She's had both since they were pups.
“They're my companions, my best friends, my kids,” she said.
Her dogs have been blessed before. As an animal lover and believer, it means something to Purvis.
“I want my pets up there with me. And to me, they have a pure soul anyway, but God's blessing helps.”
Hillary Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6857. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSHillaryDavis or on Twitter at @YSHillaryDavis.