Rev Steven Rothwell: Service to salute our pet companions

Rev Steve Rothwell, St Mary's church, Everton
Rev Steve Rothwell, St Mary's church, Everton

Since June last year I’ve been learning about dogs. Not in any formal way but by virtue of welcoming a puppy into our household, a golden retriever named Spot.

One thing I have discovered is just how quick retriever puppies grow; he is no longer the fluffy bundle that we could pick up with one hand, but is a large, boisterous dog. I’m beginning to understand some things about his personality: he is loyal and affectionate and very playful. He sheds a lot of hair too; if we had saved some of the hair that has been vacuumed up over the past 12 months we probably could’ve knitted jumpers for the whole family.

What’s clear to us is that he has become an important addition to our family life. Our daily pattern of jobs and duties has changed since Spot has been with us – he needs daily walks and regular attention.

At times this is a bit of a chore, but on the whole we have benefitted from his presence. I can imagine just how important pets can be for some people, especially those who live alone. And of course I’m not just referring to dogs, but all sorts of animals that bring companionship and comfort.

Some time ago during a planning meeting, some of us at St Mary’s thought it might be a good thing to put on a service in church to recognise the importance of pets in our lives. A planning group was set up and on Sunday (July 13 at 3pm) we will be welcoming pets and their owners from the village and beyond into church for a service of celebration and thanksgiving for animals who play an integral part in our lives.

We will be recognising the importance of working animals, such as guide dogs, hearing dogs and support dogs, and perhaps we will hear about how other pets can assist in helping people in their daily lives.

I’m not sure that there has ever been a pet service at St Mary’s (maybe this is a first?) but I’m taking inspiration from the words of Job in the Old Testament: “Ask the birds, ask the beasts and they will teach you.” I’m sure this will be a good learning experience for us all.