Ridge Rovers redeemed at pet blessing

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Bless up: Sherry Dretchman held her mutt, Celia, as she received a special blessing from Rev. H. Gaylon Barker and Rev. Carla J. Meier at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd on Sunday.
Healing hands: Terry, a Yorkshire Terrier, lounged in the arms of her owner, Linda Orlando, as she received a furry blessing from Rev. Carla J. Meier.
Party at the parish: Local Yorkshire Terrier Terry enjoyed the pet blessing ceremony with her owner, Linda Orlando, on Sunday.
Furry friend: Luke Harbert held his stuffed animal, Spotty Matilda, at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd on Sunday after his real-life cat did not feel like making the parish pilgrimage to receive a blessing.

Pets and their people from across the Ridge descended on the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Bay Ridge on Oct. 8 to receive personalized blessings — and the pious pups were on their best behavior for the indoor ceremony, holding their barks in for later, according to one attendee.

“It was lovely. It was warm and nurturing and I thought all the dogs were very well behaved there,” said Ridgite Denise Vento, who brought Jesse Banks, her 10-year-old Teddy Bear dog — a cross between a Bichon Frise and a Shih Tzu — to receive a blessing. “We were talking all day about how well behaved they were in church — it’s like they knew they where they were.”

Vento attended the ceremony with her mother, Marilyn Mahfouz, who brought her own dog Jax — who happens to be the cousin of Jesse Banks — to be blessed. Attending with her mom and the pair of canine cousins made the event extra special, she said, adding that she hopes her pooch is blessed for the rest of his days on Earth.

“I thought it was a very nice experience and I’m glad I got to share it with my mom,” she said. “My dog has been pretty blessed all along in life, so we just want to make sure that he’s watched over.”

Another Ridgite was particularly thankful for the collar charms that the pups received from the priest.

“It was very, very lovely,” said Linda Orlando, who brought her 6-year-old Yorkshire Terrier — named Terry after her late best friend Terry Rosen, a Bay Ridge community activist — to the blessing. “And they gave us a little red aluminum bear to put on the dog’s collar, and it said, ‘I am blessed,’ with a little prayer on a card.”

But not every attendee was able to persuade their furry friends to make the trek — one 3-year-old Ridgite had to settle for bringing a photo of his cat and a stuffed animal when the family feline was not interested in leaving the house.

“We tried to bring our actual cat with us, and she was highly unwilling,” said Lucy Harbert of her and her son Luke’s attempt to wrangle their pet. “We finally just gave in and brought a photo and the stuffed animal that he likes to pretend is her. But it was nice, we enjoyed it. My son is a great cat lover, so he enjoyed seeing all the animals.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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