About 30 dogs had a special outing in St. Louis last weekend to the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog for a Blessing of the Animals.

Such events are held around the country in the spring or fall each year, often on the grounds of churches and in city parks.

The 1853 Jarville House served as the backdrop to a Blessing of the Animals held at the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog last weekend. Photos courtesy of AKC Museum of the Dog.

The dogs’ human companions who attended the museum’s April 13 blessing were treated to the backdrop of the historic Jarville House, constructed in 1853. Museum Executive Director Barbara McNab says the Greek Revival home has a “beautiful front porch,” fronted by a “rather extensive lawn,” just perfect for such an event. This is the second time the museum has hosted a Blessing of the Animals in the past few years, and she says the staff is considering doing it every other year in the future.

“It’s spring, and it’s a nice thing to do,” was her explanation for why the museum would host such an event.

Seminary student Sol Grosskopf visits with a dog owner after the Blessing of the Animals at the AKC Museum of the Dog.

Sol Grosskopf, a seminary student and spiritual life leader at Concordia Seminary also in St. Louis, officiated at the blessing. “Sol gave a couple of comments about the human-canine relationship,” McNab says, then read a psalm, gave a prayer and blessed the dogs en masse. Although any animal could attend, including horses on leads, cats in carriers and birds in cages, only dogs arrived for the event, McNab says.

She also reported that the dogs did not behave in a manner consistent with those undergoing a blessing. “Oh, no. They were all having a very fun, social time. It was a very nice group with a variety of dogs,” including several Labs. “I had my little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel here.” His name is Dapper Dan.

About 30 dogs received a blessing on April 13 at the museum.

It was a beautiful day, she says, cool, crisp and sunny. “I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed all season” that it wouldn’t rain, she says.

After the blessing, people seemed “upbeat,” she reports. Everyone attending received a small hyacinth plant to take home as an “ongoing memory,” of the event, she says.

Everyone attending the blessing received a small hyacinth plant to take home as a token of the event.  

Afterward, a few people took their dogs for a walk in Queeny Park, on whose property the museum lies, while a few went into the museum to enjoy the dog-centric artwork. And others went home, McNab says.

The American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog is a 14,000-square-foot facility housing more than 700 paintings, drawings, watercolors, prints, sculptures, bronzes, porcelain figures and decorative arts. All depict dogs from various eras. With about 400 members, the museum hosts 12,000 visitors each year. It is dedicated to “the collection, preservation, exhibition and interpretation of the art, artifacts and literature of the dog for the purposes of education, historical perspective, aesthetic enjoyment and in order to enhance the appreciation for and knowledge of the significance of the dog and the human-canine relationship.” For information go to www.museumofthedog.org or call 314-821-3647.