No shame. No rules. No sobriety. No propriety. No sense of ridicule. No respect for God, for the living, for the dead, for the animals.

“Church can have a tendency to feel rigid and frigid to people,” he says. That dissolves when he walks into Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Mission, Texas, with his mutt pack trailing behind his robes. The dogs sometimes veer off from the processional to prowl the pews, greeting favorite people, but during Mass they generally lie quietly at the altar (though one has taken to curling up in the celebrant’s chair, so Sikes has to perch on its edge).

He’s so convinced of the power of the animals that when a newcomer complains (rarely), he says gently, “If you want to look for a church that doesn’t have dogs, I’m sure you’ll find one…”

…Snipes, a self-proclaimed cowboy preacher who relishes a Lone Star beer after Mass and loves country music, is an avid dog rescuer (he has 13, though only five are interested in church). He first began sharing Mass with a dog in 1985

…Snipes may be a trailblazer, but he’s not alone. The pooches-in-the-pulpit trend is quickly gaining converts…

…In Baden, Mo., Elijah, the border collie-Labrador pet of Father Don Buhr, is known far and wide as The Church Dog. “He owns this place,” says Buhr with a laugh. “The rectory, the church, he goes wherever he wants.”

Elijah sticks close to the altar of Our Lady of the Holy Cross during Mass, but greets parishioners before and after “with a big goofy grin.”

When Buhr came to this church in 2010, he declared “if Elijah distracts you from prayer” the dog wouldn’t be permitted in church. Elijah stayed. He even sits in on confessions and goes on sick calls.

A few thoughts:

1) Father should look to his dogs for advice on vestments; Father’s stole is utterly hideous.

2) I guess as long as the dogs aren’t bitches, it’s OK for them to be in the sanctuary.  <snark>