Some of Ireland’s hardest-working canine carers are being honoured at a special Dog Carol Service at Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin this afternoon.
A pack of therapy dogs, their owners and a small choir are attending the annual event in aid of Peata Pet Therapy and the Peter McVerry Trust.
The carol service celebrates the contribution the dogs and their owners make to the lives of the people they visit in care centres around the country.
Bark the herald angels sing...
Christchurch Cathedral was filled with the sounds of song (and woofs) today as the annual Peata Therapy Dog Christmas Carol Service got underway🐾 pic.twitter.com/rT6BsqBksr
— Mairéad Cleary (@maireadcleary7) December 14, 2021
Peata Chair Ian Sutton told Newstalk the service is a big “thank you” to the dogs for the companionship they offer people in care.
“Many of them may have been dog owners or pet owners in their previous life before they were in long-term care,” he said.
“They miss their dogs or cats or whatever and you could see literally the moment they walked into the ward or dayroom, you could see patient’s faces lit up – they were delighted to see the wagging tail and the friendly face.”
This afternoon’s service welcomed 150 people to the Dublin church – including some of the people who benefit from visits by Peata volunteers and their dogs.
Christ Church Cathedral Dean Dermot Dunne said the animals received a special blessing during the service.
“This year more than any other year, it is important that we recognise the contribution our pets make – all our pets make – to us in keeping us going and keeping us calm,” he said.
“Owners love their pet blessing and this year, the archbishop is going to be giving the pet blessing.”
Peata is a voluntary organisation that provides a pet therapy service to caring institutions.
Its visiting scheme involves approved volunteers and their dogs, who generally pay weekly visits.