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The animals came two by two to special service

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By Fiona Reid
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The animals came two by two to special service

ALL creatures great and small were welcomed with open arms to a special service at a Beattock Church last weekend.

Kirkpatrick Juxta Church played host to not just people but also dogs, ranging from Chihuahuas to Sheepdogs, and even a guinea pig last Sunday.

The influx of animals was the brainchild of Rev Adam Dillon, who invited pets big and small to join in the service in honour of the patron saint of animals.

Rev Dillon said: “October 4th is St Francis of Assisi Day, and of course St Francis is often known to be the patron saint of animals, making last weekend the most appropriate date.”

The Reverend explained that his years of being a minister have helped him realise that pets can play a massive part in many people’s lives.

He said: “I used to visit a hospice in Glasgow where the sister of the hospice would work alongside her dog who had an impeccable bedside manner, bringing a great deal of comfort for many of the end of life patients.

“Pets can be a tremendous lifeline in terms of companionship for those who are most lonely, and it struck me a couple of years ago, the number of people who were coming to church and had to leave their best friend at home or outside in the shade — so why not have the opportunity to share a service for all creatures great and small.”

He added: “Some people were surprised that they could bring their animals inside the church — but what better way to give thanks for all of God’s creation.”

As an added twist to the service, Rev Dillon also decided to award a prize to the to owners of the ‘smallest’ and ‘greatest’ creatures.

The winners of the prizes were Rachel Parry with her guinea pig, Patch, and Denise Dempster with Biffo, a Black Russian Terrier, who is only six months old but is likely to grow to 120 lbs.

Spurred on by the success of the event, Rev Dillon plans to host a similar event annually on the first weekend of October each year at Kirkpatrick Juxta.

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