They came from the fields and stables; they came from cages and small backyard houses; they came from favorite old rugs and yes, probably couches and big easy chairs.

More than 100 creatures great and small came seeking blessings, and none was turned away Sunday afternoon when they arrived at St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church in Los Olivos.

Dogs, cats, a guinea pig, full-size horses and a miniature one, too, were accompanied by their humans at the annual free “Blessing of the Animals” at the church on Nojoqui Avenue.

Animal owners of all ages from throughout the Central Coast brought their critters — on a lead or in a crate — to the casual, outdoor service on the front lawn of the church.

Each animal received a special individual prayer of blessing from the Rev. Randall Day, priest and rector of St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley.

“Friend and companion; may God your Creator and preserver bless, defend and keep you and all who are involved in your care and protection this day and forever,” Day said as he blessed another owner’s beloved canine.

The event included a musical performance by Adam Phillips, founder of Santa Barbara Folk Orchestra, during the service, and complimentary refreshments followed in the church courtyard.

More information about events at St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley is available by calling the church office at 688-4454 or visiting

This report was compiled by News Editor Mike Hodgson. He can be reached at


Mike Hodgson is news editor at the Santa Ynez Valley News, where he writes about local government, special events and the people who live in the Valley. He has been a photographer, writer, news editor and managing editor at weekly newspapers since 1972

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