Albany -- As the sermon was read Sunday morning on the grounds of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, it was not uncommon for a church goer to bark out loud.
Sunday's service, after all, was perhaps the holiest day of the year for many four-legged church goers at the annual Blessing of the Animals service.
Thelma Lucas saw this as a good opportunity for her dogs, Spike and Brownie, to receive their blessings.
"It is a good thing," she said. "They never get a chance to go to church, and they will get a blessing today."
Decked out in their Sunday's best, collars and leashes that is, man's best friend wasn't the only pet to receive blessings. Some members brought their goldfish. Even a pet frog got a sprinkling of holy water.
Lee Brook brought her horse Rascal, who recently suffered an injury.
"He's had a twisted ankle. I just thought maybe this would help with the treatment," she said.
Now some people might be a little skeptical about whether or not an animal can receive the same blessing as a person. But some faithful pet owners truly believe their pets have been blessed by a higher power.
Just ask Carol Ann Ham. Her cat Menpo, a 16-year-old cancer survivor, has been cancer free since it received a blessing four years ago.
She said, "I believe in the power of prayer and the blessing of animals. I think God gave us the animals to be our companions." Ham, who agrees her cat has been blessed with more than nine lives, simply asks, "why not share the love with them?"
And it was with that love and faith that brought the members of St. Paul's Episcopal, and their pets, to the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi - the patron saint of animals and ecology, whose kind acts are still noted to this date.
"I would say that animals have a special place in our lives and they bring love and they're a wonderful part of God's creation. They have a very special place in our lives as our friends and companions," said The Very Reverend Mark Jones.
A church service for those friends and companions, regardless of species, that brings a new meaning to the term puppy love.
St. Paul's Episcopal has conducted the Blessing of the Animals Service for nearly two decades now, and they say the number of pets continues to grow at each service.
The official date of St. Francis Day is October 4th.