Hundreds of Calgarians and their pets took to the pews of The Cathedral Church of the Redeemer on Saturday as the church hosted its 19th annual Blessing of the Animals Service.

Dozens of dogs, including members of the CPS Canine Unit, and a Calgary Police Service horse were blessed during the inter-denominational service at the cathedral situated at the corner of 7 Avenue and 1 Street Southeast.

In addition to the blessings, candles are lit to remember pets that have passed away.

Heather Trainor started the blessing ceremony in 1997 after losing Buddy, her pet Boxer.

“When it started, 19 years ago, there weren’t an awful lot of places for people to go and mourn their animals,” explains Trainor. “I know that the Humane Society had tried to do something like that and it was so sad that people just wouldn’t come out for it.”

“When I lost my dog, I knew that I wanted to do something for him but I wanted it to be joyous.”

Trainor says animals are close to her heart and spending time with like-minded individuals can help pet owners during the grieving process.

“When you have a bunch of animal people together it’s kind of magical.”