IF all good dogs go to heaven then there’s one pooch in Southowram who’s guaranteed a chew toy in paradise.
Because every Sunday at St Anne in the Grove, it’s not just the vicar wearing a dog collar.
Devout Yorkshire Terrier Mandy, pictured here, has been attending weekly mass for 13 years and has now even been blessed by a bishop.
Her owners, Jean and Vernon Merry, have been bringing her to services since she was a pup.
Mrs Merry said: “Round about nine o’clock she starts getting very excited because she knows it’s Sunday and she knows she’s coming to church.
“When we pull up in the car park she goes ballistic.
“She’s very much a people’s dog and she loves children, so I think that’s why she loves it.”
Many sits quietly through prayers and readings, then church-goers take turns to hold her as others on their pew go to the altar to receive Communion.
Mandy has been blessed by the Bishop of Wakefield, Stephen Platten.
She caught his eye after he led Evensong at St Thomas the Apostle Church in Claremount, Halifax, to mark its 150th anniversary. Mrs Merry said: “At the end of the service when the bishop walked back he spotted her and blessed her.
“He said: ‘That is one fantastic little beast.’”
Mr and Mrs Merry began taking Mandy to services when they lived in Illingworth, and attended St Mary’s Church.
They moved to Southowram, and St Anne’s, soon after.
Mrs Merry said: “We used to leave her in the car, but this particular day it was hot, so we said we weren’t stopping because we couldn’t leave Mandy.
“They said to bring her in and if she misbehaved they could put her in the office. But she was as good as gold. The rest is history.”
Mr Merry said: “She comes everywhere with us – holidays and everything.
“If they don’t take dogs, they don’t take us.”
Vicar Guy Jamieson said: “Mandy never misses a Sunday morning. I’ve never come across a dog as unfailingly present as this one.
“She has never made a sound in all that time – never a single bark or whimper.
“I can simply describe her as the holiest dog in the Church of England.”