Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Blessing of the Animals

I have been a devoted animal lover my entire life, despite my allergies to almost everything with fur.  From the barn cats I adored as a child to the little rats that currently share my home, animals have been an important part of my life.  They are loyal and affectionate companions, especially for those of us who live alone.

I had been planning to write a post about the animals that have helped me through what turned out to be a very challenging summer, and when I saw this past weekend was the Blessing of the Animals, an annual custom held on October 4th, or the Sunday closest to that date, it seemed the perfect time.  The Blessing of the Animals is a celebration in honour of St. Francis of Assisi, whose feast day is October 4th.  St. Francis loved all living creatures, and people will take their pets to their local church on that day to have them blessed. 

An Instagram feed I follow had photos from the ceremony that took place at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York city on Sunday where cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, an alpaca, swan, fennec fox, rat, parrot, and even some birds of prey, received blessings.

My own little rats Ginger and Ruby have not been blessed, but they are a blessing.  While at times they are a source of frustration with their fondness for chewing absolutely everything, and the amount of pee those little bladders produce is truly mind-boggling,  I love them dearly, and hope to give them as long and as healthy a life as possible. 

Their relationship is fascinating - they sleep together and play together, but Ruby can also be a bully when she wants to.

I've had the unexpected pleasure of this sweet guy's company while I have sat on my porch this summer.  Oreo lives with the family next door, but he thinks the whole neighbourhood is his kingdom, and when he's in the mood for a nap in the late afternoon, if I'm on my porch, my lap is his favourite spot.

I have not had a cat of my own for many years, mainly because of my allergies, and oddly enough, I have found that I can have him on my lap for an hour and not have an allergic reaction - a magic cat!   I recently learned that his family is moving away at the beginning of November, and sadly, this means not only will I be losing good neighbours, but also the company of a very loving and happy cat who has the loudest purr I've ever heard.

It truly has been a Summer of the Furry Critters......

Back in August, I stepped out my front door one night to find my upstairs neighbour, Natalie, sitting on the porch with a box containing two baby squirrels.  Their mother had been killed (her body was in my flower bed) and the babies had fallen out of their nest in my next door neighbour's roof.  Natalie had found them in our driveway and had been keeping them warm and trying to feed them with kitten formula in an eye-dropper.  As I held one in my hand, I marvelled at how tiny and helpless it was, and how they looked more like little aliens with fur than like squirrels.  While we sat outside, another neighbour stopped by to see what we were holding, and said that perhaps it would be kinder to just let them die.   While part of me understood why someone would think that, it was not a thought that had occurred to Natalie or I.

Natalie has a cat and a dog, so I offered to keep them overnight in my apartment, where I kept them warm with a heating pad, and turned them over to her in the morning.  While I was at work, Natalie managed to get them to eat, and found someone who specialized in wildlife rehabilitation place who would take them.  Apparently it's very difficult to keep squirrels alive when they are that small, so we rejoiced that they were still alive and thriving when we sent them off to our new home.

Do you have animals that you love in your life?


  1. A couple of years ago my daughter brought home a little turtle from a park. Although I don't know much about taking care of snapping turtles, he seems to be doing well and crawls up the glass when he sees me so I will give him a bit more food. We've had our cat for slightly less time. He looks like your friend Oreo. He loves to play but lets me know when I need to sit so he can sleep on my lap.
    My boyfriend has befriended a squirrel in the yard. The squirrel will make clicking sounds and my boyfriend will throw nuts out to him. It's gone on for two summers now. I think it's funny to see a big guy being told what to do by a little furry squirrel.

  2. Ginger and Ruby are so sweet, love that photo of their dear little backs and tails.
    How gorgeous is Oreo, that really is a look of love he's giving you. What a shame he's moving away.
    Baby squirrels, I don't think I've ever seen one. xxx

  3. I love seeing pics of your rats - they are so sweet. Oreo is a lovely kitty - so nice that he likes your lap! As you probably know, we have our dear monster Vizzini. He is a trial at times, but we do love him - and he's getting past his feral tendencies and is becoming so much more affectionate.

  4. I like critters too! I am allergic to some cats and not others. I think Siamese are the best for those prone to cat allergies. I am also not allergic to my Maine Coon.

  5. This is such a wonderful heartwarming post. I am also a huge animal lover. I can truly see that living on your own pets really make a house a home. It wouldn't be the same in my house without my pug. We had a LoveBird, Midas for 16 years and I think of him often and miss him like crazy. They really do fill holes in our hearts.

    I love that you were able to help out the squirrels. Even if they seem to have taken over Mississauga and Toronto they are still little creatures.


  6. I saw a pet blessing service advertised at a local church as well.
    Yes, there's a reason cat videos are so popular online. Who can't watch them without feeling warm and fuzzy all over? The perfect detox. I often prefer animals to people. I'm glad you saved the squirrels! but sad that Oreo will be moving. I think Ruby and Ginger are incredibly sweet too. Maybe they'd hate that description and they are bad-mouthing broads in the rat world.

  7. Oh yes I love the blessing of the animals. Ginger and Ruby are darling (and I had no idea rats were such good pee-ers). We are chronic rescuers and guaranteed cat-heaven when we die - but we've never saved a squirrel - bravo to you. xox


  8. Ha, I'm trying to imagine taking my cats to church - I suspect that would NOT go well...
    Ginger and Ruby are gorgeous little creatures, and Oreo looks very happy settled on your lap - handsome boy. Well done to you and Natalie for the baby squirrel rescue - I wouldn't have known that's what a baby squirrel looked like!
    Our 4 cats rule this particular roost - we love them beyond measure. xxx

  9. Love this special post about the animals that have enhanced your life. Ginger and Ruby have many fans, including me.

    I've been thinking about you and how you must be packing for your NYC trip! It's that time of year!!!