SHERMAN — A love for animals and agreeable weather has been the backdrop for area pet blessings. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church held its annual pet blessing last Saturday from 9-noon at the Grayson County Courthouse in Sherman. Trinity United Methodist Church of Denison will hold its annual blessing of the animals at 10 a.m. Saturday.

“Pet blessings have been held for many years. and the event is a popular tradition,” said the Rev. Wesley Evans, rector of St. Stephen’s. “It is held in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, fondly known as patron saint of all creatures.”

“Francis grew up in a home of wealth and privilege,” said Evans. “As a young man, he abandoned the comforts and trappings of family wealth and established the Franciscan order of monks. He and his fellow monks dedicated themselves to prayer and preaching the Good News, while living simple lives of poverty and charity.”

“Francis would sometimes practice his sermons by preaching to the birds, and he believed that God’s grace extends to all creation,” said Evans. “Known for his love of all of God’s creatures, Francis believed we should celebrate God’s creation and honor it by being good stewards of it.”

The City of Sherman’s adopt-a-pet mobile unit was also present, manned by animal services officer, Matt Harmon and supervisor, Steven West.

“We had a steady turnout throughout the morning,” said Evans. “And, we even had a visit from Mayor David Plyler with his daughter Katie and their two dogs.”

The “blessing of the animals,” held at Trinity United Methodist Church is equally popular, and all animals are welcome.

“Animals are such an important part of our lives, and they give so much comfort and companionship,” Debbie James said, event coordinator. “With that in mind, and knowing that other churches conducted pet blessings, I approached our pastor to see if we could do it at Trinity. We looked in our book of worship and found a service for such occasions, and we were on our way. That was fourteen years ago, and we’ve had the event every year since.”

“We’ve had a little of everything — dogs and cats, of course, but also a cow, goat, sheep, macaw, and even a snake one year,” said James. “The service is beautiful, and the animals are aware they are in a special setting. They know they have been blessed when they leave, and so have we. In addition to the blessing, each animal is given a St. Francis medal and a gift bag.”

Donations are accepted, which will go to support DAWG, an animal rescue service operating in the old Southside fire station on Eisenhower. The service receives dogs and cats from the Denison pound and places them in loving homes.

“Before being adopted, the animals are neutered or spayed, socialized, and caught up on all of their shots. They also receive any needed medical treatment,” said James. DAWG operates seven days a week and is manned strictly by volunteers.”

The blessing of the animals will take place in the church parking area and a garage sale will also be held from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Trinity United Methodist Church is located at 101 Hwy. 69 East in Denison.