Belfast Telegraph

Animal lovers gather in their droves for Belfast cathedral’s annual Pets’ Service

petzz
petzz
Dogs outnumbered cats by 20 to one at yesterday’s Pets’ Service at St Anne’s Cathedral
Dogs outnumbered cats by 20 to one at yesterday’s Pets’ Service at St Anne’s Cathedral
Holly Wilson, Peter O’Hare, Peter’s son Alfie and Maisie the pooch
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

Forget about pet hates and let's celebrate pet love instead.

And where better to do that than at St Anne's Cathedral, which was celebrating its third annual Pets' Service yesterday.

More than 100 animal lovers turned out with their furry friends for the ceremony in the heart of Belfast city centre.

Even the cathedral's commercial business manager Holly Wilson had brought her Westie-Yorkie cross Maisie, who is almost seven, along to the event, as well as her partner Peter O'Hare, who works at the cathedral, and her four-year-old stepson Alfie O'Hare.

"Apart from our Christmas carol services this would be our most attended service of the year," she said.

"This is the third time we've had it here at St Anne's and it's busier this time than it's ever been. We're so excited.

"I really enjoy it and Maisie loves it too, although she is quite used to me bringing her with me to work here."

Three years in and "there have never been any incidents", according to Holly, if you don't count "dogs barking loudly at each other", or the odd toilet mishap - as happened yesterday.

It was sometimes hard to hear the minister's words amid the cacophony of deafening barks but as Rev Janice Elson said during her sermon: "If they add their voices to ours during the service that's only proper."

The cats may have been feeling a little outnumbered - the ratio was probably one feline to 20 dogs - but it didn't stop them getting in on the action.

Mary the Lovely pictured at the service. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Mary the Lovely pictured at the service. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Holly Wilson, Peter O” Hare, with their son Alfie and pet Maisie attending St Anne’s cathedral for the service of Thanksgiving and blessing of pets. Photo by Peter Morrison
Joe Pawson with her pet cat Yoda attending St Anne’s cathedral for the service of Thanksgiving and blessing of pets. Photo by Peter Morrison
Anne Clayton and her pet Larry attending St Anne’s cathedral for the service of Thanksgiving and blessing of pets. Photo by Peter Morrison
Anne Clayton and her pet Larry attending St Anne’s cathedral for the service of Thanksgiving and blessing of pets. Photo by Peter Morrison
Holly Wilson, Peter O” Hare, with their son Alfie and pet Mazzie attending St Anne’s cathedral for the service of Thanksgiving and blessing of pets. Photo by Peter Morrison
A woman with her pet Rough Collie attends St Anne’s cathedral for the service of Thanksgiving and blessing of pets. Photo by Peter Morrison
Canon Mark Taylor, wife Frances, daughter Anneke with the family pet Ben attending St Anne’s cathedral for the service of Thanksgiving and blessing of pets. Photo by Peter Morrison
A woman with her pet dog attends St Anne’s cathedral for the service of Thanksgiving and blessing of pets. Photo by Peter Morrison
A woman with her pet Chihuahua attends St Anne’s cathedral for the service of Thanksgiving and blessing of pets. Photo by Peter Morrison
A woman with her pet dog attends St Anne’s cathedral for the service of Thanksgiving and blessing of pets. Photo by Peter Morrison
Leah Gardner and Jennifer Gardner with their pet cat Oscar join Hundreds of people with their pets attending St Anne’s cathedral for the service of Thanksgiving and blessing of pets. Photo by Peter Morrison
Leah Gardner and Jennifer Gardner with their pet cat Oscar join Hundreds of people with their pets attending St Anne’s cathedral for the service of Thanksgiving and blessing of pets. Photo by Peter Morrison
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ÔPet ServiceÕ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
A woman with her pet Chihuahua attends St Anne’s cathedral for the service of Thanksgiving and blessing of pets. Photo by Peter Morrison
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ÔPet ServiceÕ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Archdeacon of Belfast Stephen Forde blesses a dog at the end of the service. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ÔPet ServiceÕ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ÔPet ServiceÕ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ÔPet ServiceÕ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ÔPet ServiceÕ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ÔPet ServiceÕ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ÔPet ServiceÕ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ÔPet ServiceÕ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ÔPet ServiceÕ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Mary the Lovely pictured at the service. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ÔPet ServiceÕ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Autumn the three-week-old kitten pictured at the service. . Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ÔPet ServiceÕ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ÔPet ServiceÕ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ‘Pet Service’ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ÔPet ServiceÕ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ÔPet ServiceÕ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ÔPet ServiceÕ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Mary the Lovely with her owner Patience Bradley. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ÔPet ServiceÕ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Autumn the three-week-old kitten pictured at the service. . Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ÔPet ServiceÕ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Autumn the three-week-old kitten pictured at the service. . Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th October 2019 The ÔPet ServiceÕ is back at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Returning for its third year, the Pet Service took place on Sunday afternoon. All pets, and well behaved owners, were welcomed at the unique service celebrating all creatures great and small. The service is held close to St Francis of Assisi Day (celebrated on 4th October), and there was a voluntary blessing for all pets in attendance at the end of the service. Autumn the three-week-old kitten pictured at the service. . Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Mother and daughter Jennifer and Leah Gardner, from Newtownabbey, who brought along three-year-old Oscar, a big, fluffy ginger cat with bright green eyes, said he "really enjoyed it".

"Oscar just loves watching people," said Leah.

"We may even bring our other cat Muppet next year, but we'll have to see because she's a bit of a diva and we're not sure how she'll adapt to all the other pets."

Leah and Jennifer Gardner with their cat Oscar
Leah and Jennifer Gardner with their cat Oscar

Bangor couple Shane and Neus Campbell brought their adorable five-month-old son Cillian and their sprightly four-year-old black Labrador Fosca to the special service.

"It's the first time we've been and I have to say it was very good," said civil servant Shane.

"All the animals were very well-behaved and it's a really nice thing to do. I wouldn't have known anything about it but my wife saw it advertised and we thought we'd come along to try something different.

Dogs outnumbered cats by 20 to one at yesterday’s Pets’ Service at St Anne’s Cathedral
Dogs outnumbered cats by 20 to one at yesterday’s Pets’ Service at St Anne’s Cathedral

"We'll definitely be coming again next year."

Belfast social services worker Pat Mulgrew was there with her impeccably behaved 11-year-old dog Gizmo, who is suffering from an eye infection.

"His eye is giving him a lot of trouble so we thought we'd come along and see if... well you never know... it gets better," she said, perhaps hoping for God's help.

"This is a first for both of us but it was a great day out. I'm certain we'll both be back."

Former barrister John Francis Kane and Anne Clayton brought their four-year-old rescue dog Larry from Newtownards to St Anne's to join fellow pet lovers in prayer.

"We made a last-minute decision to come; it's a great turnout," said 70-year-old Mr Kane.

Dean of Belfast, the very Rev Stephen Forde, said it was wonderful to celebrate the part animals play in our lives.

"Pets and animals are a blessing to us as humans so it's right for us to share God's blessing and love with them," he added.

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