Bark for Life Hosts Walk in Reston

Discussion in 'Pet related News stories' started by Pippin, Aug 31, 2009.

  1. Pippin

    Pippin Member

    Jun 30, 2009
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    Wednesday, August 26, 2009 - Since 2005, Julie Matthews of Fairfax Station has battled leukemia through two episodes. She’s been through chemotherapy and, last year, received a bone marrow transplant donated by her sister. Through it all, she said, her dogs were comforting companions, "wonderful caregivers."

    "I’ve had these guys with me since my original diagnosis," said Matthews. "One night, I gave myself chemo at home. I was lying on the couch and Jameson laid his head on top of my neck to comfort me. These dogs are the best support."

    The American Cancer Society [ACS] recognizes the healing power of canines. Through its Bark for Life program, it promotes canine therapy for cancer patients and their families. On Aug. 22 at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston, the Northern Virginia ACS office, headquarterd in Vienna, organized and sponsored a Bark for Life walk to raise funds for patient support.

    "The focus of this event and Bark for Life is not just cancer, but also on the role our animals play in helping the healing process, " said Pam Ahart, co-owner of Bark ‘n Bubbles in Herndon and Ashburn.

    Vendors from Hope Advanced Veterinary Care in Vienna to Bark ‘n Bubbles were invited to promote their services at no charge for participation.

    A highlight for humans was the opportunity to be photographed, along with their dogs, with a Washington, D.C.-area celebrity, Scooby, K9Rockstar. All of the photo fees collected went directly to the American Cancer Society.

    Scooby is a certified canine good citizen, as well as movie-certified animal. He poses at events, dressed in appropriate attire, and visits with the residents of Sunrise Assisted Living in Reston. At Sunrise, 9Rockstar is a big hit, owner Kevin Kelly said.

    "We were walking Scooby past Sunrise a year ago when someone from the center called us over. She asked us to come in," Kelly said. He and Scooby did go in and the residents responded so well that Kelly talked to the manager and asked if he and Scooby could visit on a regular basis. "Scooby’s perfect for that job," Kelly said. "He’s nonshedding, hypoallergic. He loves visiting there."

    Initially, Kelly and Scooby knocked on room doors at Sunrise, introducing themselves. Kelly took photos of residents with the K9Rockstar, many of whom cherish their photos.

    "Now, when we come, we have 20 people sitting, waiting, for us."

    Kelly and Scooby, usually with Patricia Andronicos, Kelly’s girlfriend, along, visit Sunrise every Monday evening. When K9Rockstar has an appearance conflict and is unable to make it to Sunrise, the facility announces the impending absence. "But residents come down, anyway, sitting, waiting," Kelly said. "They say, ‘just in case you show up.’"

    Andronicos recalled the time that Scooby stood up on his hind legs and pushed a wheelchaired patient. "I love doing this stuff," she said. "It’s great helping others. Scooby’s a wonderful dog."

    THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY offers free services to cancer patients, including a volunteer driver program for cancer treatment appointments, wig or soft-form prosthesis, personalized nutrition counseling and patient advocacy. See or call the Vienna office at 703-938-5550 for more information on the ACS and its programs. For information on Bark for Life, go to Scooby, K9Rockstar, is available to visit schools, hospitals, or community events, and offers private therapy. See for more information.


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