2017-10-05 / Front Page

Blessing of the Pets and Pet Owners gives pet owners encouragement

BY TANYA TERRY
810-452-2645 • tterry@mihomepaper.com


Katy Calleja (left) and Tereasa Calleja (middle) received a blessing from Rev. Andrew Czajkowksi for their dog Bear at the 35th annual Blessing of the Pets and Pet Owners, held recently on the grounds of St. John the Evangelist Church. 
Photos by Tanya Terry Katy Calleja (left) and Tereasa Calleja (middle) received a blessing from Rev. Andrew Czajkowksi for their dog Bear at the 35th annual Blessing of the Pets and Pet Owners, held recently on the grounds of St. John the Evangelist Church. Photos by Tanya Terry DAVISON — About 100 pet owners and 50 pets gathered for the 35th annual Blessing of the Pets and Pet Owners on Sunday, Oct. 1. on the lawn of St. John the Evangelist Church.

Reverend Andrew Czajakowski, who prayed over about 47 dogs, three cats and their owners, said the weather conditions could not have been more favorable, and the pets seemed very at home this year.

In the past, Czajakowski said pet owners have brought ducks, snakes, gerbils, llamas, rabbits, chickens, turtles and goldfish to be blessed.

“I know a lot of people have said they have rescue dogs,” Czajakowski said. “Once a lady said her rescue dog rescued her from being lonely. This year, another woman said her dog was her best friend. Then, a lady said she’d been to a Blessing of the Pets and Pet Owners before, and her dog, who was 13, was, according to the vet, only aging at seven!”


Rev. Andrew Czajkowksi blessed Tammy Bolongaita and her 5-month old yellow lab/retriever mix dog, Annie. Annie is expected to become a leader dog for the blind. 
Photos by Tanya Terry Rev. Andrew Czajkowksi blessed Tammy Bolongaita and her 5-month old yellow lab/retriever mix dog, Annie. Annie is expected to become a leader dog for the blind. Photos by Tanya Terry The blessing is always held on the Sunday closest to the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, which occurs on Oct. 4. St. Francis is known as the patron of pets. People may see garden statues depicting St. Francis, often with a bird on his shoulder. According to legends, beasts and birds were charmed by his gentle ways. He is said to have preached to the birds, pacified a wolf and put together an animal cast for what is regarded as the first nativity scene.

Czajakowski said about a third of the people who come for the annual blessings are not members of the church, but continue to come every year.

“I feel God cares about pets because they’re gentle creatures, and he gave them to us as companions” Czajakowski said. “We, as superiors, have a responsibility to take care of them. A lot of people hate to see anyone hurt or suffering, including animals. I hate to see a deer on the side of the road.”

Tereasa Calleja brought her 3-year-old St. Bernard, Bear, to be blessed. Calleja said she would like to see God allow Bear to be with her and her family a long time, and for God to keep him healthy because he brings joy to their lives.

“Bear’s an amazing family member,” Calleja said. “If you’re having a bad day, he seems to know it, and he cheers you up. St. Bernards don’t typically live a long time, but every once in a while, I talk to someone who says they had one that lived a long time. I hope that will be the case with Bear. “

Calleja says she feels confident after attending the Blessing of the Pets and Pet Owners that prayers that were made concerning Bear will be answered.

Tammy Bolongaita brought her 5-month-old yellow lab/golden retriever mixed dog. Bolongaita received Annie from Leader Dogs for the Blind, in Rochester. Bolongaita’s job is to teach Annie foundational obedience skills and expose her to as many different kinds of environments and social situations as possible, so she will be comfortable anywhere her owner needs to go when she is returned to the organization at age one.

Bolongaita also said she feels confident God will answer her prayers after attending the event.

“I trust he has a plan for Annie, and I’m excited to see how he will use her to brighten the canvas of somone’s life,” she said.

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