On a bright red leash that set off her black Scottie coat, Tom Cramer’s and husband Ron Sanchez’s Maggie stood by her seated owners at a blessing of the animals-themed Sunday morning service of First Congregational Church of Wiscasset. Cramer, with Maggie in front of the church steps, and Sanchez, to their right in the choir, also brought a photo for Rev. Josh Fitterling to bless: It was of their border collie. Millie died recently.
As for bringing Maggie, Cramer said, besides her getting the blessing, she loves people. “And she never got to go to church before.”
“She always needs blessings,” a smiling Gail Burke said with poodle-mix Annie, 9, in her lap before the service.
About 40 people, many with pets or photos of pets either home or being remembered, and some attendees with toy stuffed animals, turned out. Woolwich’s James Nelon brought photos of Oreo the dog and Nelon’s late cat, Shadow.
The church adapted the usual weekly wording to say “hands, paws and fins” and “words, barks and meows”; and, in the usual invitation to stand if able, Fitterling drew some chuckles when he added people could stand if able given they had their pets with them.
He said they could move about informally including visiting the watering area set up. It was the church’s second year blessing animals but the first time it was part of the service, Fitterling said in an interview. Last year’s blessing was in the afternoon; joining it with the service this time helped the whole congregation be there for it, he said.
Meeting with each pet owner and their pet, photo, or both, Fitterling placed a hand on the pet or photo as he blessed it. “Sandy’ll take all the help she can get,” Wiscasset’s Sky Wentworth said laughing as man and goldendoodle neared Fitterling. Sandy moved swiftly about and Fitterling did, too, successfully placing his hand for the blessing.
The service also garnered donations for Midcoast Humane.