Blessings won't just be going to the dogs at Peace Lutheran Church's annual St. Francis Pet Blessing festival. Past attendees have brought their pet birds, bunnies, cats, guinea pigs, ponies, horses and even an iguana. This year's event is from 12 to 3 p.m. Oct. 7 outside the church at 3201 Camino Tassajara in east Danville.

St. Francis (1181-1226) is the patron saint of animals. The blessing is scheduled near Thursday, his Feast Day. "My daughter and I got it started four years ago," said Maili Malvre, a Danville resident, congregation member and owner of two blessed dogs, Lulubelle and Daisy. "It started slowly but has become a great success. Peace has this lovely outdoor area which lends itself so well to the blessings. People have even brought cremains of their pets to be blessed and asked blessings for their loved ones who are sick."

Garbed in a pastoral white robe with a colorful sash, Pastor Margareta Johansson and a guest pastor will perform individual blessings for each of the animals.

"People stand in line to get their animals blessed," said Greg Grebe, chair of the pet festival. "It's kind of a big deal. Some of the pets are ill or pretty old."

I asked how well the different types of animals get along while waiting in line with their owners. Maili emphasized that only well socialized dogs should participate, and Greg said that dogs and cats are kept in separate lines.

Some 15 exhibitors are expected to participate in the festival, including various dog-rescue groups, the East Bay Dog Listener, Dogs for Diabetics and a pet grief counselor from Hospice. A silent auction will also be offered, along with burgers, hot dogs and other refreshments available for purchase.

For further information, visit www.peacejourney.org or call 925-648-7000.

Maili and her husband, Olavi, have lived in Danville almost 40 years. She taught English for 15 years at Dublin High School and for about 13 years at Amador Valley High School. She retired in 1996.

"I'm very, very fond of Danville," Maili told me. "I've traveled widely to Third World countries and the Middle East. Retirement is meaningful and full of new adventures."

OFFICER'S DEATH: I was shocked and saddened to learn of the senseless fatal shooting on Sept 4. of California Highway Patrol Officer Kenyon Youngstrom on Interstate 680 near Alamo's Livorna exit. So was Rosario "Russ" Belleci, owner of Ristorante Forli in Alamo, who is hosting a fundraising event Sunday.

"It's my exit on the freeway," he said, "and the whole thing really bothered me. I do about six or eight Las Vegas-style dinner shows a year, and I'm going to donate 20 percent of my proceeds from this dinner on Sept. 30 to the Officer Kenyon Youngstrom Fund administered by the Police and Fire: The Fallen Heroes organization."

The three-course dinner will feature salad, several different kinds of pasta and dessert. Entertainment throughout the evening will be provided by the Still Rock'N & Friends Band, whose members include Joe Iovino, a Danville resident; Craig Harper, a Realtor at J. Rockcliff Realtors in Danville; and Rex Bell, who teaches guitar lessons in Danville. Bell has toured with such notables as Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Paul Simon and Sammy Davis, Jr. The group is also scheduled to perform Oct. 26 at Crow Canyon Country Club in Danville.

Belleci said an anonymous donor has pledged to match the donations. Ristorante Forli is located at 3160 Danville Blvd. in Alamo. For reservations, call 925-820-1711.

Contact Georgia Lambert at arounddanville@yahoo.com.