The Rev. James Cirillo of Grace Episcopal Church in Casanova presided over the annual Blessing of the Animals at the Fauquier SPCA Sunday afternoon. About 20 dogs, a cat and a guinea pig were blessed by the rector, who has been performing the rite each year for more than a decade.

Before giving a personal blessing to each animal, Cirillo led the gathering in prayer. “Oh God, you have made us and these pets and all living things … We thank you for giving us these pets who give us joy. As you take care of us, so also we ask that you help us to take care of our pets who trust us to take care of them. By doing this we know that we share in your own love of creation …”

Among the blessed were current occupants of the shelter, former shelter dogs and other pets from elsewhere in southern Fauquier. Houdini, a Wheaten terrier who currently is staying at the shelter, was removed from her owners when the breeders were found to have 80 dogs that were not being cared for adequately. SPCA director Devon Settle said staff was taking advantage of the gathering to provide some needed socializing for Houdini.

Another crowd favorite was a tiny brown and black mixed breed named Lilly, who had been removed from the same breeding facility. She had been placed with a foster family up until two days before.

Settle said, “The foster family was great; they called a few days ago and said the two puppies they were caring for weren’t doing well.” Settle took the puppies back to make sure they had the intensive medical care they needed. “We lost one puppy, but this one seems to be doing better,” said Settle. Her 8-year-old daughter Morgan is giving Lilly lots of love and attention.

Current shelter resident Duke is a big pit bull mix whose tough-looking exterior belies his sweet nature. As Cirillo approached him to administer a blessing, he rolled over for a belly rub, and he was happy to accept strokes from visitors of all ages.

Ollie, who looks like a miniature version of the wolf that had a run-in with Red Riding Hood, is a former shelter dog. He’s only 4 months old, and owner Susan Thompson said the family came all the way from Fredericksburg for the Blessing of the Animals at the Fauquier SPCA.

Cirillo, whose own two dogs joined the throng, finished his prayer by saying, “As God has blessed you with these pets, so may they be blessed by your love and care … Amen.”

Reach Robin Earl at

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