From wild to domesticated, Longboat Key residents take great pride in protecting and pampering their animal friends.
No sea turtles were in attendance, but over two dozen dogs and one cat attended the Longboat Island Chapel’s first Blessing of the Animals on Saturday.
The chapel is non-denominational, but October is a popular month for pet blessings because the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi is celebrated on Oct. 4. Assisi was an Italian Catholic friar, known as the patron saint of the environment and animals. It’s written that he gave sermons to flocks of birds.
The Rev. Brock Patterson blessed each pet with peace and joy, but even the most high-class domesticated animals are still animals.
Two dogs got into a kerfuffle in the parking lot, and Ollie the hypoallergenic Havanese tried to drink the holy water.
The lone cat Max popped his head out to tolerate the blessing, but quickly disappeared back into his duffle bag carrier the second it was over.
The best in show was, of course, former show dog Gidget, a Shih tzu. She arrived in a stroller and had no interest in the antics of the other dogs acting like dogs.
This wasn’t Gidget’s first blessing. She sat tall as Patterson signed the Holy Trinity around her nose and recited a prayer.
“May the Lord bless and keep you, watch over you, give you health and great joy all of your days. Amen,” he said.
Gidget was unfazed by the sprinkle of holy water. The same can’t be said of Dean Martin.
The terrier/chihuahua mixed breed is still a nine-month-old pup fresh out of the Underdog Rescue of Florida. He was sweet as could be, but could not sit still before, during or after the blessing.
“We need an exorcism on him,” joked owner and new Chapel office manager Lori Gubernat as she led doggie Dino toward Patterson.
Each pet received a certificate of blessing, a treat and a pink or blue dog tag, engraved with "Longboat Key" on one side and "God Loves You" on the other. All blessings were paid forward to less fortunate animals.
Guests arrived gripping leashes in one hand and pet supplies in the other. They filled a table with food, treats, collars and cash, all of which will be donated to the Humane Society of Manatee County.