[KHTS] -The American Cancer Society and the Santa Clarita Valley Relay for Life team held the fifth annual Bark For Life event on Saturday at West Creek Park in Valencia.
“This is an American Cancer Society event and we are celebrating the canine companionship of our dogs when you’re going through cancer or any other life altering (event), they are always there for you and supportive,” said Theresa Kerr, the event chair for Bark For Life. “Today is about celebrating dogs.”
Over 100 local dogs and their owners walked around West Creek Park in Valencia in an effort for raise money for cancer research.
The event did not raise money for dog cancer, however, Kerr said.
Before the walk began, guest speaker and event co-chair Betsy Keesler shared her experience with canine companionship.
In 2005, Keesler learned her father had cancer, “in 18 months my dad would be gone. My mom would be alone and my daughter would no longer have a grandfather. Three months later, her other grandmother would be gone. All to cancer.”
In May 2006, Keesler and her daughter ended up at a pet expo where they adopted “Moose,” an American Bulldog.
“Something happened to us when we brought that dog into our home. It was like the fog lifted,” said Keesler. “There was something about saving a dog’s life, it brought my compassion back, it gave my family something to focus on. His antics made us laugh again… In reality, we may have rescued Moose, but he ended us saving us all.”
Keesler rescued another dog in 2008, a Great Dane named “Frankie.”
“Both of our dogs always knew when we were sad, when one of us was having a tough day,” said Keesler.
In November of 2014, Moose stopped eating and Keesler learned he had a large tumor, “we heard the word ‘cancer’ again.” Three months later, Moose was put down.
Every day, I think of how much cancer has taken from all of us. Whether it be friend, family or a big ole dog named Moose,” said Keesler. “May we take this moment to thank our four-legged and two-legged caregivers.”
Canine companions demonstrate unconditional love, joy, security, compassion and no judgments of cancer survivors abilities or appearances, according to the Bark For Life event program.
“People have to go to work, they have to go to school, they can’t just be there for you all the time, your dog is there for you all the time,” Kerr said. “They seem to sense when something is really wrong with you and they are even closer, so that’s what we’re celebrating today.”
All of the proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society to fund cancer research and awareness.
“The money that American Cancer Society uses for human cancer, of course, also helps for animal cancer,” sad Kerr.
About 14 “packs” competed to raise money for the event.
The “Top Packs” were Gabby & Emma’s Team, The Big Bark Theory, Heather’s Pack, Snoopy & Ziva’s Team and Bow Wow.
The “Top Dogs” were Jennifer Eisenman, Kathleen Pavard, Lori Brtis, Julie Viz and Theresa Kerr.
“People just love bringing their dogs out to things like this. There’s not enough of that in the Santa Clarita Valley,” said Kerr. “(People) love (this event), because they’re all dog lovers.”