Bark For Life will become annual event in Grayling City Park to support American Cancer Society
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
I’ve always had a dog. Dogs are just a part of my life. My dog is like my child. I had a dog who actually had breast cancer and recovered, so I couldn’t help but support this event." – Veronica Terrell, of Grayling
Dozens of people and their canine caregivers packed into the Grayling City Park on Saturday for the second annual Bark For Life to help raise funds and awareness to battle cancer.
The fundraiser for the American Cancer Society was held on Saturday, Oct. 13, through the Relay for Life of Crawford County.
Jessica Christensen Jazenski, the event coordinator for Bark For Life, said the goal of the event was to raise awarenesss about cancer and for people to have fun with their best friends.
“With Relay For Life, you’re unable to bring your dog, so this is a way to be able for people to celebrate that human-canine bond and companionship, since with some survivors, their caregiver is their dog, and to raise awareness that dogs get cancer, too,” Jazenski said.
Twenty-six dogs were registered for Bark For Life. Relay for Life of Crawford County raised over $30,000 in 2018.
Bark For Life launches next year’s Relay for Life campaign.
“This is kind of a way to kickoff the next Relay season. I’m just excited that so many people came to support, especially with the weather,” Jazenski said. “Good old northern Michigan weather.”
Bark For Life featured a Michigan Search and Rescue Demonstration, a Dog Agility Demonstration, and a Costume Contest.
Bark For Life will now become an annual fall event.
“We’re going to keep doing it year after year as long as people keep showing up,” Jazenski said.
Dennis Wallace, of Grayling, attended Bark For Life for the second year in a row with his Australian Labradoodle, Gus. Wallace had surgery for kidney cancer just three week ago. Gus was eager to visit with the other dogs and to get pets from the people on hand.
“It’s good to be here with fellow cancer survivors and have dogs mingle with each other, and to stand up for some of my family I’ve lost to cancer,” Wallace said.
Veronica Terrell, of Grayling, was at Bark For Life with Mason, a Shih Tzu mix she adopted as a rescue from the Lansing Humane Society.
“I’ve always had a dog. Dogs are just a part of my life. My dog is like my child. I had a dog who actually had breast cancer and recovered, so I couldn’t help but support this event,” she said.
Mason and Terrell won the award for the Best Kiss at Bark For Life.
Terrell lost her twin sister, Monica, to cancer. Monica worked for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for three decades, and was instrumental in establishing the campground host program.
Terrell relocated to northern Michigan to serve as a campground host to honor her sister. She has called Grayling home ever since.
“After a couple of weeks, I fell in love with Grayling,” she said.
Ron Hnizda, of Higgins Lake, was at Bark For Life for the first time with Pearl, a Border Springer Spaniel.
“This was the first time she’s had a whole lot of dogs around her and she did real good,” he said.
Pearl and Hnizda wowed the crowd at Bark For Life and won the Best Trick award. Hnizda said Pearl is able to do over 30 tricks.
“She’s very well trained and well mannered,” Hnizda said. “I don’t even need a leash to walk her.”
Hnizda said he appreciated taking part in the event in hopes of finding better treatments and a cure for cancer.
“We certainly support the goal,” he said.