Even though the ancient Dog Days of Summer are long over (traditionally July 24 - August 24), the stars have aligned again with several events this weekend focused on man's best friend. Woman's, too.
Maybe it's that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has designated October as National Adopt a Shelter Dog month. Animals lovers across the nation are encouraged to observe National Adopt a Shelter Dog month by spreading the word to raise awareness about the positive aspects of adopting from your local shelter.
Or maybe it all goes back to St. Francis of Assisi. The twelfth-century Italian animal lover, whose feast day is today, October 4, founded the Franciscan order, preached a sermon to the birds and entered a peace treaty with a wolf, among other canonical accomplishments.
The Blessing of the Animals is a time-honored tradition, according to American Catholics. Many Catholic churches hold a Blessing of the Animals on or around Oct. 4. Locally, Pet's Lifeline has again asked Father Mike Kelly of St. Francis Solano to come and bless the animals awaiting adoption.
"He usually goes down the line and blesses every one of them," said Nancy King, executive director of Pet's Lifeline. "He sprinkles holy water on each pet."
For the first time this year, though, Pet's Lifeline has opened the event up to the public. It's scheduled to begin at 3:30, but if you want to give Butch, Ranger or Boots a better chance in the afterlife, King asks that you show up with your pet - all reasonable species accepted - about 3 p.m. to allow time for organization.
In Kenwood, St. Francis Winery pays tribute to their namesake with their own Blessing of the Animals, on Sunday, Oct. 7 for this annual event. There will be dogs, cats, birds, lizards - even a baby alligator and fox, from the Lyon Ranch animal rescue organization.
The animal blessings by Father Patrick Leslie of Star of the Valley Church in Santa Rosa, at 2 p.m., followed by the popular “Winery Dog of the Year” contest.
The event is free and open to the public, with all proceeds from a charity raffle benefiting the Humane Society. More than 200 local pet owners and their beloved animals present in 2011; expect at least that many this year. More details on the winery website.
If you want to celebrate in a non-religious manner, take the Eco Tour Dog Hike at Kunde Vineyards, on Saturday, Oct. 6. This moderately strenuous hike will take you and your pet on a scenic hiking tour of the winery's 1,850 acre estate, along with fourth generation grower Jeff Kunde and Riley the dog.
Along the way, you will be rewarded with breathtaking scenery of the Sonoma Valley and learn of Kunde Estate's sustainable winegrowing practices. Not sure how much of all this your dog will absorb, but maybe that's not the point. Cost is $50/person, dogs free. More Info.
FYI the Walk with the Dogs Day organized by Sonoma Valley Dog Owners and Guardians (SVDOG) originally scheduled for Sunday, Oct 7, has been delayed until Spring.