The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


A puppy's journey includes a stop at church

Member of Ohio congregation trains service animals

Worshipers at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Westerville, Ohio, didn't know it, but they were a test case for Leslie Young.

New to the area, Young attended services at St. Paul a few times and hoped to make it her home congregation. But there was a potential hurdle.

Leslie Young and her puppy-in-training
Leslie Young and her puppy-in-training find a welcoming congregation at St. Paul Lutheran, Westerville, Ohio. As a volunteer for Canine Companions for Independence, she socializes dogs in public settings.

Young raises puppies for Canine Companions for Independence or CCI, and one of her jobs is to socialize dogs in public settings. So she decided to take her puppy-in-training to worship. If she was welcomed, she would stay. If not, she would look elsewhere.

"I was more than greeted by a lot of people," said Young, who is working with her third dog in a process that takes up to 18 months. "They were very interested in what I was doing. They were very supportive."

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