INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – Justine Lavin brought Maxwell to the Humane Society’s annual Blessing of the Animals in search of a special blessing – to keep cancer away.
“He’s getting older,” Lavin said of the nearly 12-year-old Great Dane-German Shepherd mix. “He’s ailing.” Maxwell has had a couple cancer scares already, and Lavin doesn’t want another one.
The Taylor family brought Princess Pia Pia as a way to give back to her all she does for them.
Pia Pia, a Pug, works two jobs – companion for the family and assistant to Jim Taylor, a US military veteran who finds handling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder easier to manage with Pia Pia guarding his back.
“She does everything for us,” Dawn Taylor said. “We want to make sure she’s protected.”
About 100 animals – almost all dogs – came out to the Blessing of the Animals. Seventeen special members of the audience, were there in photographic form, however.
The 17 dogs the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County took in from a defunct animal rescue shelter in Port St. Lucie are still in quarantine and were not able to be outside for he blessing.
Instead, Rev. Dr. John R. Jacobs blessed their photos.
“Of all the animals, they really need a blessing,” Humane Society Executive Director Chalmers Morse said of the rescues.
While some cat owners would have brought photos of their feline friends, Mary Walters brought 5-year-old Snuggles, a Ragdoll.
“She loves animals,” Walters said while cuddling Snuggles.
Snuggles did not react to the noise of the dogs, nor did she seem to mind going nose-to-nose with the curious pooches.
“I want her blessed with good health and care,” Walters said.
Every year for the last five, Walters has brought Snuggles.
“It gives her something to look forward to,” Walters said.
Most churches that perform an animal blessing do so in October, in remembrance of Saint Francis of Assisi.
The Humane Society, however, holds its blessing in the spring – to mark the start of National Be Kind to Animals Week, which starts May 1.
Morse told the audience that this is a time to be mindful of the special role animals play in our lives.
“The bond is like no other,” he said.