Ten horses from the Massachusetts State Police Mounted Unit and several dogs from the K-9 Unit were blessed by a chaplain on Tuesday morning in a ceremony State Police said they hope becomes an annual tradition.
The blessing, performed by Father Frederick Fraini III at the mounted unit headquarters in Acton, served to strengthen the ties between the animals and their troopers and officers, as well as to highlight the importance of animals in police work, said Sergeant Maureen Wesinger-Lewis, commander of the State Police Mounted Unit.
“It really makes that bond with your horse and dog just that much stronger,” she said. “Even if you’re not someone who goes to church, just knowing that your animal was blessed brings back that connection.”
Wesinger-Lewis, who’s been partnered with her 19-year-old Clydesdale, Scotty, for four years, said she feels confident the horses also respect the bond they have with their riders.
“I really think they know their role, their job, and what they’re doing. They rely on you to be there for them,” she said. “My horse, I don’t even have to have him hooked up, he’ll just follow me around.”
The State Police horses and dogs were joined by a horse from the Boston Park Ranger Mounted Unit and two from the Plymouth County Mounted Unit, Wesinger-Lewis said.
She also extended the invitation to several mounted units in New Hampshire and Rhode Island, but the event came together last minute, and many were unable to attend this year.
“Hopefully, we can make this more of an annual thing and have more horses and dogs in the future,” she said. Wesinger-Lewis said despite the negative effects of last-minute planning, the blessing was a hit among troopers, and even more so for their horses and dogs.
The chaplain opened with a prayer, spoke briefly about the blessing of the animals, and then sprinkled them with holy water, Wesinger-Lewis said. After the blessing, the dogs were given treats and the horses munched on carrots. It was the best part of the day for the stars of the show, said State Trooper David McCann, a member of the mounted unit.
“My horse loved it,” he said. “They were stuffing carrots in his mouth.”
McCann, who’s been with the mounted unit for 18 years, participated in blessing ceremonies with his horse around 10 years ago, before they fizzled out of fashion for State Police.