Can a priest bring his dog to mass?

This week-end our parish is having it’s summer festival and parking was going to be difficult because the parking lot was being used for the festival stuff. So we decided to attend mass at another church in the area.

Much to my surprise, the priest came in with a dog during mass. The dog wasn’t a seeing eye dog or did not appear to be needed for medical / health reasons because the priest was moving around very well and even walked back and forth during the homily.

The dog was very well behaved and laid there off to the side on the step before the altar.

After mass was over, the priest greeted people as they left. People shook his hand and petted the dog.

Is this allowed?


hen I was a boy an old priest visited our parish and his dog was always by his side - even during Mass. We kids loved it and somehow it made the mass nicer. So my answer is yes! (in smaller letters so as it doesn’t look as if I’m astonished at the suggestion)

Is your priest Dominican, by chance?:wink:

About the closest thing I can imagine to actually letting this happen would be the blessing of pets on the feast day of St Francis, and Even then, the dog has to stay outdoors. I must say I am quite shocked he would bring one up near the altar.

Even if it didn’t seem there was a medical reason for the dog, there may have been. I attended a Mass once with this very same situation. After inquiring about it I found out that the priest has severe diabetes & the dog is trained to pick up the scent if the priest’s blood sugar is off & then alert him to take care of it. Without the dog the priest would not have been able to function, especially since he had to travel each weekend for Masses. I went from feeling shocked to being amazed. Everyone at the parish just accepted the dog, knowing his purpose.

“Did not appear to be needed”. . .

That’s just it–appearances can be deceptive. Therapy dogs are not only needed for the blind but can be utilized in many other situations in which a person’s ‘need’ is not readily ‘apparent’ to the casual observer.

Of course it could be also that for whatever reason this is approved by the bishop.

Or it may be totally unknown to the bishop, and the priest feels that this is something that is totally within his pastoral responsibility to permit.

Or it could be that this priest not only KNOWS the ‘rules’ but is deliberately breaking them for his own personal reasons which could range from egotistical “My church—my rules” to satanic, “I will bring the church down starting with my dog–get it–dog is god spelled backward, nyah-hah-ha”. . .

We don’t know.

If it concerns you, please ask the priest (nonconfrontationally), “Father, your dog is beautiful and so well-behaved. I’ve never seen a dog at Mass before; can you tell me a little bit about how and why she/he comes with you?”

In which case he can either answer you, or not. If he doesn’t want to answer, then really you have no other recourse than to write (again, very nonconfrontationally and charitably) to the bishop, stating that you went to church and saw the dog and in casual conversation with the priest about the dog’s presence, he seemed to be upset/defensive/uncommunicative and so you just wanted to bring this to the bishop’s attention if it is not already known to him, trusting as always in the bishop’s well known attention to detail and fatherly/pastoral care for his priests and all his flock, asking God’s blessing for the bishop, the priest, and all Catholics everywhere.

That way, you have made sure that if this was not known before, it is known now. And that if it was not known, the ball is in the bishop’s court and it is ultimlately up to the bishop to deal with the situation IF IT NEEDS TO BE DEALT WITH.

Plus, you will yourself have done your part not only with the letter but with the all important prayers and Christian charity and trust you will have expressed.

And may God bless you all.

I must say I am quite shocked he would bring one up near the altar.

I saw a photo of this happening about five years ago, but lost the photo when I changed computers.

Seeing eye dog, yes.
medical dog, yes.
dog not interrupting, yes.
dog interrupting, no.

They are God’s creatures too.

When I was a boy scout many years ago we went camping in the Taconic Mountains near Ancram, NY. The local church was small, but the numbers of people attending during the summer swelled so much because of the state park nearby that they had benches outside and would open up the windows - actually remove them - to accommodate us all.

The pastor had an old dog that followed him wherever he went, and sat off to the side on the altar when he said Mass. After seeing it once or twice, we got used to it - he never moved or barked, and followed the priest off the altar at the end of Mass.

Fond memories of long ago!

One of our previous pastors had a dog, a beautiful Samoyed name Skipper. Skipper sometimes wandered into my office to say hello but most of the time he spend at Fr. Jack’s feet.

Skipper was deathly afraid of thunder. One Saturday, during the anticipated Mass, a storm blew through and thunder cracked repeatedly. The next thing I heard was frantic scratching at the sacristy door. Knowing the damage Skip could inflict by scratching & chewing, I promptly got up to let him into the church. He rushed in, terrified, looked around and spotted Jack. One reassuring pass close to his master and he contentedly went to curl up in front of the Tabernacle where he stayed until the Recessional when he proudly walked down the aisle with Jack.

aww, reminds me of my old dog. he was so afraid of thunder. (he never went to church tho :wink: )

there is a question that needs to be asked. What purpose is served by having a dog at the mass. in the case of service animals or at an animal blessing there is certainly an objective purpose. but these must be considered as extraordinary circumstances. the matter at hand is how does having a dog at the mass distract form our full and active participation in the Eucharist and what does the dog have to benefit from all this? all things considered the dog i believe would be a distraction, one that has the possibility of disturbing the mass itself, and has little or nothing to gain from a mass as the mass was not created for animals.

i’m not saying that a dog should be at mass, but even without a dog, rarely is there a mass without distractions. our priest giggles sometimes during mass. and he is always saying thank you, thruout the mass. a well behaved dog laying still is much less of a distraction in comparison to some other distractions.

I would think that we should assume with charity that it’s a service dog of somekind.
Another poster has already went through several different kind of services dogs, and I also believe there are dogs for the epileptic that can detect when a seizure is imminent.

I’d agree with Tantum ergo about approaching the Priest and asking nicely about the dog.

or Dalmatian,Alsatian or from the Chinese capital which would make him Pekinese hehe - sorry

Are we discriminating against cats again? :slight_smile:

We used to attend a parish where the priest brought his dog as well, we loved it. :slight_smile: The priest was older and had a great deal of farm animals as the parish was right along the river in a rural area.


Of course he can. After all, he did it.

Is this allowed?

As far as I know it’s not forbidden by any Church law and I wouldn’t know if there is a local health code that would prevent it.

So the real question is, “Ought a priest bring his dog to Mass?”

My thought is “not usually” since it was obviously distracting to you. We live in a society which has developed a social norm that says dogs are out of place at Mass.

But you didn’t mention that anyone else was distracted by the dog.

And as others have stated there are any number of reasons why it might be good for either the priest or the dog that, at least this particular occasion, the dog accompany its master.

I would think that if there was some ongoing reason why the dog was there (whether or not it was a good reason), the priest has probably explained it in the past. I would find it excruciatingly annoying if I was a parishioner who had to listen to that priest explain the presence of his dog every single time he said Mass.

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