Dressed in a pink shirt and pink bow, Miley the dog celebrated her first Blessing of the Pets with her new owners.

Madelynn and Alessandra Sanchez clung to their Shih tzu Miley as Bishop Brendan John Cahill smiled as he splashed holy water over them. Other Our Lady of Victory Catholic School students mirrored their actions with their own dogs, cats, hamsters and even a turtle.

“We ask you to bless these pets,” said Cahill before making his way about the courtyard.

The students participated in the annual Blessing of the Pets in the school’s courtyard Friday afternoon. Parents brought their family pets to the school to be blessed during the annual event. Some students held up photos of their pets that couldn’t be there.

Several students read about the importance of pets in the world as dozens of dogs barked and cats meowed. Young students sat on the grass and clung to their pets or the cages that held their furry friends.

The Blessing of the Pets is an annual celebration in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, who preached love of animals.

“It’s to help our pets get blessed because they help us through everything,” said Madelynn, 11. “They deserve to have a blessing too.”

It’s special to have a school that allows them to bring their pets for a blessing, Madelynn said.

This year was special for the Sanchez sisters. It was the first year they had 7-year-old Miley.

They adopted Miley, who belonged to their aunt, five months ago when their aunt died from cervical cancer. The dog was like a child to their aunt Tanya Galindo, sixth-grader Madelynn said.

“(Miley) helps us through a lot,” said Madelynn as she wiped away tears.

Alessandra, 13, said it was important for them to bring Miley because she is like a little person and she deserved to be blessed.

“She brings us happiness,” the eighth-grader said.

The girls’ grandmother Maria De La Garza, of Victoria, said they inherited the dog and she brought peace to their home.

“She’s our blessing. Miley comes from a very loving home,” De La Garza said. “Her mother was very loving, and when she passed away from cancer, we didn’t think she would do very well at our home.”

Miley brings the family happiness and offers them a token of their aunt, De La Garza noted.

“She has adapted to us very well, and it has brought us so much joy,’ De La Garza said. “It’s just a remembrance of Tanya and who she was.”

Samantha Douty is the education reporter at the Victoria Advocate.  She grew up in Corpus Christi and graduated from UT-Arlington with a bachelor's in journalism. 

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