Bailey, Millie and Lady were among the first to arrive. They touched noses, sniffed about and greeted each other under the pecan tree that shades Broad Street United Methodist Church in downtown Mooresville.
The dogs, with their owners in tow, gathered on the lawn for the church's second annual Blessing of the Animals, which the Rev. Amy Freeze officiated.
It was late afternoon June 5, hot and sunny with dark, stormy clouds in the distance.
Lady, a yorkie/Chihuahua mix, perched prettily in the arms of Rodney Assalone.
Never miss a local story.
Bailey, a 3-year-old corgi, tested the obstacle course that her owners, Kristina Thoennes and Ellie Hand-Thoennes, were setting up for post-blessing activities.
Millie, a 1-year-old pug, led Ethan Beaver and his mother, Melissa Beaver, from guest to guest.
Stormy, the only cat, stayed on higher ground in the arms of her owner Ron Higdon. Higdon and his daughter, Olivia Higdon, 15, like many of those who attended, live in Mooresville's historic neighborhood just next to the church.
Freeze formed a circle of prayer with more than 20 dogs, one cat and their families. "Let us pray," was answered with a resounding woof-woof from Kobi, a 6-year-old Eskimo spitz.
"The consequence is the barking," said Freeze before reading from Psalm 104: "How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the Earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number - living things both large and small."
And both large and small they were.
Hope, a 3-year-old Chihuahua, attending her first-ever blessing with Liebe Brown, won the prize for smallest animal. She stood alongside 7-month-old Layla, a Great Dane puppy weighing 90pounds.
Layla attended with, Laura Scherczinger, her children, and their golden retriever. "This is important to me," said Scherczinger. "These are God's animals. We all get blessed. They should be blessed too."