Greyfriars Kirk hosts service to bless pets

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Greyfriars Kirk has played host to Scotland’s first ever pet blessing service and more than 100 dog owners and their pets flocked two by two to attend this rare breed of ceremony.

The service began with Reverend Dr Richard Frazer welcoming a wide range of breeds and sizes to his pews – alas no snake owners dared to brave this Garden of Eden – despite the invitation.

Rev Richard Frazer with the owners and dogs, including Angela Ballintine, Alan Cameron and Rudi. Picture: toby Williams

Rev Richard Frazer with the owners and dogs, including Angela Ballintine, Alan Cameron and Rudi. Picture: toby Williams

Instead the shaggy-coated congregation comprised mainly of Skye Terriers, which was only to be expected given Scotland’s most famous pooch and Skye Terrier, Greyfriars Bobby, is buried in the kirkyard.

To yelps and woofs from the congregation, Rev Frazer revealed how the original Greyfriars were devotees of St Francis, the patron saint of animals.

A selection of creation and animal-inspired hymns and prayers were then recited by the congregation’s two-legged element, while those of a four-legged persuasion happily sniffed the bottom of those in the next pew.

There was no mention of the lamb of God to prick the ears of the parishioners – instead, Rev Frazer led the flock in the blessing prayer before recalling his own dearly departed dog, Tess, and the bond enjoyed between man and animal.

The 40-minute service ended with the Prayer of St Francis and a stirring rendition of, what else, but All Things Bright and Beautiful.

With this the pack then left the kirk and proceeded on a “pet parade” around the grounds before returning for tea and dog biscuits.

One animal lover in attendance was Skye Terrier Club member Moira Barras, 69, from South Queensferry, and 11-year-old companion, Kelly, who has played Greyfriars Bobby for a festival promo film. She said: “I think it’s a great idea. To many people dogs are like family members and I think it’s nice that they can brought into the church and included in this way. Hopefully it will become an annual event.”

Angela Ballantine, 36, and Alan Cameron, 32, from Pilton, also attended with their six-month old Pug, Rudi.

Angela said: “Rudi is a big part of our lives so it’s nice that we can do this with him and it’s a bit of fun too.”

Rev Frazer praised the temperament of his new congregation, adding: “They weren’t as unruly as others I have ministered and thankfully there were no fights or wee accidents either.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who attended and we’ll be looking to stage it again next year.”