Gloomy, overcast weather and the chance of rain didn't stop a small group of parishioners from gathering at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church Sunday afternoon for the annual Blessing of the Animals.

"These are the people who really are dedicated pet lovers," said Jill Walters, SAEC associate rector. "It's important because we believe that God created animals to be companions with us and that they are created as gifts to creation. It's also partly a celebration of St. Francis' Feast Day, which was on Thursday."

St. Francis was a protector of animals who people believed could communicate with them. St. Andrew's celebrates his Feast Day on the first Tuesday of every October with a Blessing of the Animals for all of the children at St. Andrews Episcopal School.

Walters said it's not uncommon for children to bring a variety of pets for the sacrament including snakes, horses, and insects. 

For Sunday's special blessing, dogs ruled the courtyard of St. Andrews as they mingled while waiting to receive their blessing and medallion.

DeDe Ballou brought Beau, her 10-year-old rescue dog to be blessed.

"We just came to get blessed because that's what we Episcopalian's do -- we bless," she said. "We got him and his sister when they were pretty young, but she's passed away."

Ballou said though she thinks all dogs go to heaven, the blessing is important for their souls.

"It's good for both of our souls for him to get blessed," she said.

Dave Blakley too thought it was important that Teddy, his 5-year-old German Schnauzer be blessed.

"He's one of God's creatures and God's supposed to bless us all," he said.

Blakley said he never misses the blessing of the animals.

"It's the only way to really stay in commune with God, to accept all of his creations," he said. "We like to keep everything in perspective and keep it all blessed."