Dogs perform Welsh chapel’s nativity play

January 30, 2022
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The Christmas story has been told with the help of a Welsh chapel’s unlikely helpers – the congregation’s dogs.

Gellionnen Chapel enlisted about 10 dogs to help perform the nativity to “cheer people up” watching at home.

A Facebook video with baby Jesus played by a pug Jack Russell cross and the three wise men as whippets, has already racked up more than 3,000 views.

Reverend Rory Castle Jones, minister of the chapel near Pontardawe, Swansea, said it was chaos organising them.

No auditions were held for the parts, with dogs selected because they looked like certain characters.

“We looked at each dog and thought ‘Who looks like they could be a Mary, who looks like they could be a good shepherd?’

“We had a very cute tiny puppy – so obviously that had to be Jesus.”

Margaret, the dog who played Jesus, was the “most well behaved” and stayed still wrapped in her blanket, the minister said.

“She seemed to sum up the whole thing really, not what you’d expect, but perfect for the role and ridiculously cute,” Mr Castle Jones said.

Meanwhile, the three wise men were played by three whippets – one of which, Edna, was the minister’s own pet.

“They all get on very well and enjoy running laps of the chapel, and they are there every Sunday,” he added.

The pooches were dressed in tinsel, tea towels and colourful scarves brought by members of the congregation to assume their roles.

“They didn’t like the costumes, but it was all quite ridiculous and bizarre,” Rev Rory Castle Jones said.

“We didn’t have any arguments over casting. But some of the dogs didn’t work so well with others.”

“The inn keepers was a bit grumpy. I don’t think she was particularly excited about welcoming Mary and Joseph to the chapel, but she excelled in the end.”

He added that the three wise whippets preferred to run everywhere, rather than walk wisely.

“It was utter chaos, definitely. But we had some tricks up our sleeves,” the minister said.

Treats were wrapped in tights and swung around at the end of bamboo canes and owners strategically positioned at certain places in the chapel to direct the action.

“It was quite a strange sight for people walking past up the mountain to see all these people waving sticks with tights on and dogs running around in costumes – so we had to do some explaining,” he added.

The whole production took a several hours in a morning to make the two minute film.

Mr Castle Jones said the chapel’s team who organise events had wanted to “put a smile of people’s faces” and give people a “nice, warm Christmas feeling”.

The dogs themselves were volunteered by their owners who are members of the chapel’s congregation or friends in the nearby area.

He added that the chapel was open to new ideas for its nativity next year, but there have already been suggestions for cats to take up the task – or more exotic animals.

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