It was mostly dogs of all shapes and sizes, although there with two cats and a pot-bellied pig, that came with their owners to the blessing of pets hosted Sunday afternoon by Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center.

For 14 years, the hospital has held the event in honor of the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, the 13th-century Italian friar who loved all creatures. 

The event is held on the broad, shady front lawn of the LSU Health Surgery Center on Perkins Road; the only differences this year were the masks all the folks wore and the distancing of the folding chairs.

After leading the close to 50 people in responses from bulletins handed out, the Rev. Don Ajoka, director of pastoral care for OLOL, went to each of the animals and their owners, asking for the names of all and using them in his blessing.

"May you and (the owner) enjoy life together and find joy with the God who created you," Ajoka said to the animals as part of the blessing, before giving them a sprinkle of holy water.  

Forrest Richards, of Baton Rouge, had brought her gray-and-white, 3-year-old male cat Garbie, who sat alert but not alarmed on her lap; the kennel he had arrived in was close at hand.

"I love my pets and I go to church, so it's a perfect combination," said Richards, who also has a timid cat and a horse.

"Garbie loves to go to brunch and to the barn with me," Richards said. "He loves to go anywhere." 

Alan Krowtter, also of Baton Rouge, had brought his large, 2-year-old mastiff named Moose.

Krowtter said a friend had told him of the event and he decided he would like to bring Moose to his first pet blessing.

"I'm a spiritual person and I love him," said Krowter, adding, "Today we need all the help we can get." 

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