FOR several years Tracey Parbery used to travel from her home in the West Midlands with her mum to walk her dogs in the Worcester area and then take them all to Worcester Cathedral’s Cloister Café.

She and her mum, who was in a wheelchair, had a cup of tea and maybe a cake, while the three greyhounds lay on the floor and had a rest after their exertions. Tracey, her mum and the dogs loved it.

Then one year, Tracey, who is chairman of the Hall Green branch of the Greyhound Trust, discovered the cathedral had stopped allowing dogs into that area so they could no longer all enjoy a chance to relax in the peaceful surrounds of the majestic building.

Hugely disappointed and somewhat miffed, Tracey wrote to the cathedral and asked if it would be willing to hold an event once a year dedicated to animals.

“I have three greyhounds and I used to take them walking in the Worcester area and bring them to Worcester Cathedral with my mum to have a cup of tea.

“The cathedral stopped allowing dogs into that area. I contacted the cathedral because my mum used to love it and the dogs were very quiet and used to just lie down.

“I said: ‘This is God’s house and would you be willing to hold an event one day a year about animals?’ They said they would and the first year happened to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Greyhound Trust. There was a blessing for the animals and it was a great.”

That was four years ago and the cathedral has hosted this event annually ever since. It is now staged to coincide with National Pet Month, which runs from April 1 to May 7 this year. This year’s Pet Service at Worcester Cathedral takes place this Saturday (April 14) from 1pm.

“The Hall Green Greyhound Trust has organised it for the past four years,” said Tracey. “We do it to coincide with National Pet Month and it is an event to celebrate pets. Last year we could not do it in April because of the cathedral commitments so we did it as near as possible in May.

“We have been recognised by the Greyhound Trust and National Pet Month (a charity) for holding this event and we always try to do it for other pets. It is a really nice event and it is for members of the public. We have had snakes, tortoises, ferrets, a skunk, fish (in a bowl) and an owl as well as all sorts of different types of dogs.

“It has been a great success. The Mayor and Mayoress of Worcester attend and last year Reverend Canon Dr Michael Brierley brought his cat. We have about 250 to 300 people attending. It is just really lovely and good fun. And we have a marvellous memory tree made by the cathedral carpenters and we put hearts on for those pets no longer with us,” added Tracey.

The event actually starts half an hour before the service at Worcester city bridge, where people attending gather with their pets and then parade through the city centre before arriving at the cathedral where they are greeted by the Mayor and Mayoress of Worcester.

Tracey said: “The service lasts about 40 minutes and then people and their pets can go into the Chapter House for refreshments if they want. It is an open house. We have people who do not have any animals come along.

“It started out as a negative thing when the cathedral stopped allowing pets into the café but it has turned into something positive ever since. It has been such a lovely way to bring the charities together and help find homes for animals, greyhounds and others. It is lovely to have them all together at the cathedral.”

She added: “When they take the service, the animals very rarely make a noise. It is just like they know what is going on. The cathedral has been brilliant.”

Pet supplements manufacturer Lintbells want to remind people during National Pet Month of the benefits of owning a pet and particularly a dog.

• They’re incredibly loyal: Our canine companions generally love being around people. They wait for you by the door - face smiling, mouth open and tail wagging, ready to dote on their best friend in the world. They are great listeners as most of us are guilty of confiding in our pets, especially after a hard day’s work.

Their mood can quite often reflect how you feel - when you're feeling blue your dog will remain by your side to comfort you, but when you're happy your dog will leap about and share in your excitement.

• They keep you healthy: If you are looking to spring into action after the winter blues your dog can be the best companion. Our furry friends love being active – walks, fetching sticks, leaping into a pond or even just a game of frisbee. Even if you’re lacking energy and tempted to just stay in, the importance of ‘walkies’ will compel you to get out of the house.

Dog owners have also been found to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and they can even promote emotional wellbeing thanks to their unconditional love.

• They’re entertaining: Dogs often beat other animals on the entertainment scale with their goofy looks and antics. They’re unpredictable and silly and often entertain us with their playful nature and human-like behaviours. Simply watching them as they chase their own tail for hours or a game of peek-a-boo from around the corner will certainly keep you chuckling.

• They can help you socialise: Walking your dog is a sure fire way to start conversations with fellow animal lovers. Their friendly and super social nature means you can make new friends at the same time as walking your dog.

• They’ll never leave you hanging: We all have that one friend who cancels on you regardless of weeks of planning in advance. But with your furry little friend, you’ve got nothing to fear. They will always be there for you no matter what.

There is no doubt our pet pooch deserves gentle handling and should be showered with lots of love and affection.

For more information about National Pet Month visit the charity’s website at