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First Pet Memorial Day a big success

Our very first Pet Memorial Day and Blessing of the Animals has proved to be a great success. There was plenty of emotion, and not a few tears were shed.

Our very first Pet Memorial Day and Blessing of the Animals has come and gone, and proved to be a great success. There was plenty of emotion, and not a few tears were shed at the service held on Sunday, 9 October, but there was also plenty of joy and laughter as more than forty of the Alpine region’s animal lovers and their furry families came together to remember the pets that have passed on, and to celebrate the important role that our pets play in the lives of so many people.

Sadly, we have lost a couple of our own deeply loved dogs in recent times. We understand only too well how deeply the passing of a much loved pet can affect those left behind. The death of any animal certainly affects all of us who work at the hospital and we know only too well how difficult it can be for people to cope with the loss of a pet. They’re family, and people need to grieve.

These faithful companions deserve to be remembered and we hoped that our little memorial service would be a way in which our clients, and all the animal lovers in the area, could come together to celebrate their memory. From the feedback we received it certainly seemed that the day was helpful to many people. We hope it was.

Held at the Uniting Church in Ireland Street, Bright, our inaugural memorial day attracted almost 50 people, young and old, who turned up to attend the service, with most of those bringing along their pets to swell the congregation.

We think it was great to see so many animals there. The dogs and cats may not know what’s really going on but they do seem to sense the occasion, and they were all on their best behaviour. Not one of them caused any problems, not even the odd accident. It was also nice to see so many young people and children turn up.

The service and the Blessing of the Animals was led by John Hill, Minister of the Uniting Church, and Father Scott Jessup of the Anglican church, who are themselves both animal lovers.

We are so grateful to Minister Hill and to Father Jessup for supporting the idea of a memorial day and blessing and for giving their time, and to the Uniting Church for allowing the animals to come into the church to attend the services. Both Minister John and Father Scott are keen to make the Pet Memorial Day service an annual event. We’re all really excited to see this support and are keen to expand the idea.

Following the services, everyone who attended received a colourful balloon, each containing a tiny LED light representing a pet who has passed on. The balloons were released in the church grounds. The lights were meant to shine for about 15 hours so if you saw lights in the sky last night, it probably wasn’t a UFO, just a little remembrance of somebody’s faithful friend.

Similar services to ours are held all over the world at this time of year — in ancient cathedrals and in tiny country churches — to coincide with the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. They’re not especially a religious event and nobody needs to be a believer to attend. They are meant to be a time to recognise the integral part our pets so often play in our lives, and to be a way to give thanks for the joy and pleasure our furry companions bring to us throughout the all to short a time they spend at our sides and in our homes.

We have already pencilled in Sunday, 6 October 2012 for our next memorial day, which we hope will include all denominations. We think it would be wonderful to see it become a regular part of the events calendar here in our region. Tell us what you think.