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Who Let The Dogs Out? - Committee Barking Up Fundraising Tree
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Pebbles the dog is a little unsure of the camera getting up close and personal at Saturdays Bark For Life event in Oakdale, but owner Len Jerkins had her decked out with appropriate gear, helping raising money in the battle against cancer. - photo by Marg Jackson/The Leader

Over a dozen dogs of all sizes, ranging from breeds of Chihuahuas, smooth coat collies, golden retrievers, Bernese mountain dogs, and more pawed their way around Wood Park in Oakdale on Saturday, Aug. 18 for the American Cancer Society’s Bark For Life.

This was the third year for the event, which honors the caregiving qualities of canine companions and is a walk event for dogs and owners to raise funds and awareness in the fight against cancer.

“This is encouraging for a first time post relay event,” said Volunteer Michelle Hood as she registered the dogs and masters. “Usually the Bark for Life was before Relay (for Life).”

Hood’s husband, Jeff Hood, described the gathering as a “ferocious tail-wagging event” as he was making the rounds, making sure water bowls were full and distributing promotional items.

Dressed in black and with furry traces of all the pooches that greeted her, Mayor Pat Paul kicked off the event thanking those that attended.

With her golden retriever Chester at her side, two-time cancer survivor Betsy Stowe talked about her battles with the disease and thanked friends and family for the support and encouraging words she received.

“When you’re down from this disease, help comes from expected and unexpected ways,” Stowe told the group. “Dogs have a sense of what’s going on with their owners.”

Getting emotional, she added that God gave her peace and strength in many ways during her struggle to recover and there were times when Chester would not leave her.

“Moments count,” said Stowe. “Small acts of kindness count.”

The group of hounds and owners then paraded a few laps around the park and visited booths from PetCo and the Escalon Animal Control Department. A contest was also held for various categories such as oldest, best dressed, smallest, and largest dog.

This year, the Relay For Life committee put on the event and it was also offered for the first time at Wood Park in the heart of the downtown area, at F and Yosemite. Proceeds will benefit the 2012 Relay, with the fundraising year winding down at the end of August.

As a way to wrap up one year and kick off the next, the committee is hosting an informational meeting for those interested in learning more about the Planning Committee for Relay For Life 2013.

The meeting is planned for Wednesday, Aug. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Round Table Pizza. Call for more information, chairperson Heather Murray, 209-604-2124.