Dogs help take a bite out of cancer at Bark for Life

June 26, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

Stephanie Quam’s favorite subject is Otis, her black pug and trusty companion.

Mention Otis and Quam simply gushes with pride. Her passion for the 11-year-old pug is undeniable. Quam fondly recalls the moment she knew they were meant to be together, when she met eyes with a 12-week-old Otis. Now, Quam looks for any opportunity to do fun and impactful things with her canine companion.

That’s why the two are co-chairing Issaquah’s first Bark for Life event June 30 at Bark Park, on Northeast Natalie Way in the Issaquah Highlands. The American Cancer Society fundraising event honors the caregiving qualities of canine companions while also celebrating four-legged and two-legged cancer survivors. Bark for Life takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Quam’s mother is a cancer survivor, and one of Otis’ best girlfriends, Bella the pug, passed away from canine cancer a few years ago. So, the event hits close to home for the two.

“I enjoy any activities that I can do with Otis and Bark for Life is perfect for that,” Quam said. “It is a special bonus that not only can we do it together, but we can make a difference in lives, human or canine.”

The Fido-friendly event begins at 10 a.m. with a survivor lap, similar to Relay for Life events. The survivor lap will be led by Tully, an 11-year-old canine cancer survivor and Dr. Luminita Sarbu, of the Veterinary Oncology Center. After the initial lap, participants can continue walking with their dogs, or stop and enjoy the many dog-friendly activities planned.

Dogs can enjoy pet portraits, contests and more. Quam said to expect a doggie costume contest as well as contests for the smallest and largest paws at the event.

There will also be several vendor booths and giveaways. Vendors on hand include pet rescue organizations, veterinarians, pet stores and other groups offering various pet services. Information about canine cancer prevention will also be available.

At traditional Relay for Life events, loved ones are honored and remembered through the Luminaria Ceremony. Bark for Life does something a little bit different in the spirit of the Fido-friendly event.

“At Bark for Life, we honor and remember with personalized paper dog bones that are placed around the park,” Quam said. “It is a great way for participants to honor or remember loved ones, either canine or human.”

While Bark for Life is dog-friendly, pit bulls will not be allowed due to Bark Park’s policy.

Participants must register for the event. The cost is $20 for those who register online at www.issaquahbark.org before midnight June 29. Those who register at the event will pay $25. Complimentary Bark for Life bandanas are available for dog participants at the event while supplies last.

Proceeds from Bark for Life go the American Cancer Society to support its mission to save lives and create a world with less cancer.

Christina Corrales-Toy: 392-6434, ext. 241, or isspress@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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