Pictures of Leo, Carly, Kilts, Socks, Spook and others were lined up on a table for members of First Presbyterian Church to admire Sunday.
This public display of animal affection was all part of “The Pet Event,” one of five New Horizons Dinners where church members 50 and older eat, meet and mingle.
Sunday’s dinner honored pets of the past and present.
Eloise and Don Eddy recalled their huge fluffy tomcat, Sam, named after the color of Samsonite Luggage that debuted the year they got him. Sam would disappear during evenings and weekends, only to return each time bruised and beaten-up.
The Eddys think Sam may have fathered a TV star. Five years after Sam died, a similar-looking cat named Morris began appearing on cat food commercials. The humane society located near the couple’s Illinois home revealed that the Morris in the commercials was rescued from the society.
“Morris looked suspiciously like our cat,” Don Eddy said.
Other members extolled the lives of their animals with short biographies next to the pictures: “Mickey. Kairu Terrier. Betsy Baker’s long-time companion, host, and guardian. Put to sleep February 8, 04.”
A cat-shaped, wire-rimmed frame held a picture of Wendy, the 11-year-old part-Siamese cat of John and Florence Anderson. A short description noted, “She likes to talk loudly.”
Polaroid photos showed Wendy stretched out in a chair, investigating a stuffed-dog on a bed, lying in a window seat and sitting pensively on a sofa arm.
Peggy and Bob Hurst named their French Bulldog Charmin because she was soft, like the toilet tissue. Peggy Hurst said the dog offers companionship.
“You get something from a dog you don’t get any place else,” she said.
Dogs and cats were not the only animals on display Sunday. Kathleen Brown, who organized the event, brought pictures of her two llamas, goats and pony.
After dinner the floor was opened to Krista White and her border collies Trooper and Cookie, and Claudia Brown and her Labrador-mix Sierra.
Aside from sit, shake and stay, the dogs did everything from play catch to grab tissue after a sneeze. The dogs closed the show by bowing to the audience and high-fiving.
In addition to performing tricks, the dogs make 200 therapy visits, going to schools, retirement centers and hospitals around Columbia.
Members said the afternoon reinforced the importance of pets as companions and friends, and they can even help improve your health.
“Having pets lowers your blood pressure,” Peggy Hurst said. “We seniors can use that.”