Pets receive Buddhist blessing in Penfield

by Alan Morrell, Democrat & Chronicle, October 15, 2007

Penfield, NY (USA) -- Marie and Jay Albano-Yanick of Rochester brought their dog, their cat and their fish. Peggy Weston Byrd of Brighton brought her dog, Willie.

They were among 20 or so people who brought their pets to Ellison Park on Sunday to have the animals blessed by a Buddhist teacher, Lama Gursam.

After the ceremony, Byrd said she noticed a difference in Willie, a standard schnauzer breed, who was situated near a feline for the blessing.

"He's normally aggressive around cats," she said. "But I'm so happy — he was sharing his calm, assertive energy with the cat."

The event was sponsored by Amitabha Foundation, a Buddhist organization, based at 11 S. Goodman St., which is dedicated to preserving the culture of Tibet. The animal blessings stemmed from basic Buddhist beliefs, said Lama Gursam.

"Every life is equally precious, equally important," he said. "We all have this Buddhist potential. It doesn't matter what form, human form or other forms."

Gursam said prayers, then used sacred objects to bless the animals.

Marie Albano-Yanick said she has been a member of Amitabha Foundation for a year and a half. The pet blessing, she said, was spiritual and important for her and her pets: Ursula, a pit bull breed dog, Sabosh the cat and Harold, a Betta fish.

"I just want (my pets) to be blessed with the energy," she said. "We all have the Buddhist seed."

"They're all members of our family," said her husband, Jay Albano-Yanick.

Sunday's event, at the Old Meadow shelter in Ellison, was the first pet blessing sponsored by the Amitabha Foundation, said Frank Howard of Brighton, the organization's executive director.

"To honor the Buddhist nature in another creature is to honor the nature in ourselves, and to strengthen those qualities in ourselves," Howard said.