Guest blogger, The Rev’d Humphrey Blytherington is Vicar of St Hilda’s, Little Snoring with All Saints, Great Snoring. He is a graduate of Plymouth University. He completed his studies for the ministry at Latimer Hall, Durham. He is married to Daphne and enjoys home brewing, model railroading and is an avid member of the Great Snoring Morris Dancers.

I must say, I haven’t seen poor old Lavinia so worked up for some time. It seems that a lady vicar over in Canada has administered holy communion to a dog. At the clergy fellowship lunch Fr Giles said he was scandalized, but not surprised. Said he wouldn’t be surprised at anything the female clergy might do. “What next?” he asked, “taking communion to the zoo and administering to a gorilla?”

Well, poor old Lav was practically apoplectic poor soul. Nearly in tears. Said Giles had no idea about anything at all and that dogs were God’s creatures too. “What would St Francis have done?” she said, and didn’t Our Lord himself say something about dogs picking up the morsel of bread from the master’s table? We all got into quite a lather about the whole affair and Lavinia admitted that from time to time when their own doggie was feeling under the weather that she and Georgie had more than once laid hands on her for healing and even anointed the old girl (the doggie that is) with holy oil.

I said that was going a bit far, but tried to lighten things up a bit by telling the story about how old Canon Farnsworth once got finagled into doing a funeral for a budgerigar. Seems one of the old women in the parish had a dog die, and the undertaker twisted Canon Farnsworth’s arm to turn up and say a few prayers at the graveside for the pooch. When he rolls up it turns out that there’s a coffin and pallbearers and the whole kit and caboodle for the poor deceased hound. So Canon Farnsworth put a good face on it and did his best. Then at the bunfight afterwards one of the old ducks offered him a cucumber sandwich and said, “Lovely service vicar.” then said in hushed tones, “My Bobbie was in the coffin too.”

“Your Bobbie??” said Canon Farnsworth. “Who on earth was your Bobbie?”

“My budgie” said the old dear. “He passed six months ago and I knew Harriet’s dog was about to go so I popped him in the deep freeze until Sammy passed.”

Canon Farnsworth nearly spit out his tea and sandwich, but managed to say, “Well, I wish I’d known, and I’d have said a prayer for Bobbie too.”

What do I think about it all? Well, I’m not really fussed. I can’t see it has done any harm to offer the doggie the Holy Communion. I’m sure the lady vicar didn’t mean to offend anyone. Storm in a teacup really.

Daphne? Yes, well. There is a bit of a sore point. Made me a bit cross I must say. Daff read about it in the Daily Telegraph and simply snorted a bit (as she does) and said, “Doesn’t make a bit of difference. What the silly woman gave the dog was only bread anyway. Might as well have given him a Bonio and been done with it.”

I tried to pick her up on the point and say that she was a bit out of line, but she put down her paper and said, “Just what do you believe about Holy Communion anyway Humphrey darling?”

But I wasn’t going to take the bait. I try to avoid these little theological spats with Daff if I can. What? Yes Nigel, I don’t mind if I do have another half a lager shandy. Thanks very much indeed. Very kind.