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Rex-communicated: Guide dog gets blessing from pope

Monday, 18th March 2013

With the election of a new pope comes the inevitable horde of followers camping out in St Peter's Square for a chance to catch a glimpse of the pontiff, although one golden Labrador retriever guide dog has gone one better by becoming one of the first living creatures to receive a blessing from Pope Francis.

It is perhaps fitting that the new pope should choose to bestow his blessing upon a pet, having taken his name from the patron saint of animals.

The dog, named Asia, had been accompanying his visually-impaired owner Alessandro Forlani in the Vatican when he was spotted by the pope, who then asked to meet both owner and pet.

According to Discovery News, Mr Forlani asked Francis to bless his family, at which point the pontiff bent down to stroke the animal, saying "and a special blessing for your dog too".

While not all pets have the luxury of receiving papal blessings to keep them in good health, owners can do their bit by making sure their animals are well-fed with specially-formulated pet food from trusted brands such as Hills and Burns.