Why can’t I have my dog in my wedding?

If your dog is a service dog and you or another member of your wedding party depend on it in order to participate in the liturgy, then you should be able to include the dog. You can even put a bow on its collar if Fido will tolerate it! But you can’t have a pet in your wedding for any other purpose. Liturgy, by definition, is the work of the people – it is the way that we come together to celebrate who we are and glimpse who we are called to become as the people of God. Even though pets are increasingly accepted in public places in the United States and some people think of their animals as members of their families, pets are not, in fact, people. Animals are a beautiful part of God’s creation, to be sure, but only humans are made in the image and likeness of God. Only humans have the privilege and the obligation to praise God by participating in the liturgy. Unless the dog’s role is to facilitate the participation of a person, it does not belong in church, no matter how special it is to you.

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.