Frank and Loraine Tobakin love golden retrievers.
The Lenox couple's latest, Bailey, displays the playfulness and affection three others of the canine breed have brought them and their family for nearly 30 years.
"I get up some mornings and I have just one slipper and a bone in place of the other," noted Frank Tobakin. "It's pretty obvious who made the switch."
Tobakins' granddaughter Rebecca Robertson feels blessed she gets plenty of playtime with Bailey.
"He's cute and very spoiled," Rebecca said. "He likes jumping on you and hugging you."
On Sunday, Bailey was among 48 dogs, along with six chickens, one Persian cat and a lizard who gathered with their masters for the Blessing of the Animals service at St. Helena's Episcopal Chapel. The outdoor ceremony, similar to one held by several area churches this weekend, pays homage to St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment.
PHOTO GALLERY | Animals are blessed at St. Helena’s Chapel in Lenox
The Italian friar of the late 12th and early 13th century believed humans and creatures of land, sea and the skies equally share the earth, according to Virginia Vogel-Polizzi, a lay minister at St. Helena's.
"They share in the ways of human beings. They have a part in our lives," she said. "Francis of Assisi recognized this when he called the animals, wild and tame, his brothers and sisters."
Mary Yee of Dalton brought her six chickens to blessed because they provide eggs as well as make for unique family pets. Daughter Peggy Yee showed off one of her two black chickens called "silkies."
"They are one of three breeds with feathers on their legs and five toes," Peggy noted.
While the chickens, dogs and the lone cat seemed accepting of the divine blessing, Izzy was a bit unnerved by the attention. The anole, a gecko-sized lizard, couldn't handle the excitement, according to his young owner, Andrew Lymm visiting from Connecticut.
"He's changing color because he's stressed -- green is when he's happy," said Andrew.
In addition to blessing the animals, Sunday's ceremony reminded the pet owners gathered to continue caring for those dogs, cats and other creatures that need mankind's help to survive.
"We pray for the volunteers of local animal shelters ... as well as shelters and rescue groups offering aid to homeless and abandoned animals across Massachusetts and across the world," said the Rev. Daina Salnitis, pastor at St. Helena's.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233