Pets mean the world to us. They give us joy, comfort and companionship with unconditional love and devotion. And every now and again, there’s nothing wrong with slipping them a couple of Scooby snacks or a scoop of ice cream as a reward. That’s cool. But is that the best we can do?


Pets mean the world to us. They give us joy, comfort and companionship with unconditional love and devotion. And every now and again, there’s nothing wrong with slipping them a couple of Scooby snacks or a scoop of ice cream as a reward. That’s cool. But is that the best we can do?

According to Michael Larkin, it’s not. Larkin, the director and founder of the New Ark Chorale, will lead his group in a charity concert dedicated to praising more than 50 animals through “All Creatures Great and Small” Saturday night at United Methodist Church in Newark.

For the event, the Chorale is partnering with PAWS for People, a non-profit organization committed to providing pet therapy at more than 170 facilities in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey. The cost of admission will benefit the Chorale, while a free will offering will be raised to benefit PAWS.

Noah’s musical ark
The Chorale will harmoniously sing a wide gamut of 20 songs from hits like the childhood favorite “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” to Peter, Paul and Mary’s popular folk tune “Puff the Magic Dragon” to Welsh composer Ivor Davies’ “Prayers from the Ark,” which is comprised of a series of prayers written from the perspective of different animals on Noah’s ark.

IF YOU GO
WHAT New Ark Chorale presents “All Creatures Great and Small”
WHEN 7 p.m., Saturday, April 21
WHERE United Methodist Church, 69 E. Main St., Newark
COST $5 students; $12 seniors; $15 adults
INFO newarkchorale.org

As an added treat, certified human and canine therapy teams from PAWS will be on site to welcome patrons to sing along, including Calli the tender-hearted golden retriever.

Larkin, of Brandywine Hundred, who founded the Chorale in 1977, is pretty sure Delawareans haven’t encountered a show like “All Creatures Great and Small.” And this brings him joy.

“It’s a program theme I have not seen, at least not around here,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to greatly increase the audience’s awareness of what the PAWS organization is.” 

More than music
Every year the Chorale teams up with a local organization and hosts a concert to help raise funds for that organization. Last year the Chorale partnered with Delaware Hospice to create awareness for Camp New Hope, a program that unites children and teens who have recently lost a loved one.

This year Larkin decided to partner with PAWS after his late wife, Linda, who passed away in December after suffering from a severe form of early dementia the last two years. At the request of Linda, Larkin purchased his beagle Bonkers, who had provided comfort to his wife and continues to console him. Familiar with the PAWS mission, Larkin contacted Lynne Robinson, who founded PAWS in 2006, and expressed interest in birthing “All Creatures Great and Small.”

“To have them think about us — and value our service and want to help us — is pretty earthshaking,” Robinson said.

Larkin is impressed by PAWS, in part because he knows the healing power of pet therapy. For example, petting an animal has the ability to send endorphins throughout the human body, thus making people feel good, while lowering stress levels, Robinson said. Larkin has since submitted an application for he and Bonkers to join PAWS’ pet therapy program. This summer the pair will begin their orientation.

“It seemed such a natural fit for the two of us,” Larkin said.

Robinson looks forward to having the crew on board this summer. But ironically, she said Bonkers doesn’t quite live up to his name.

“His ‘name’ is Bonkers, but he’s not bonkers,” she quipped. “He’s very adorable.”