Giving Back Awards 2013
Sponsored by Old Point National Bank Honoring The Region’s Outstanding Non-Profits
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A Day For Dogs
Chesapeake Humane Society’s Bark In The Park Gives An Opportunity To Show Off Furry Friends— Or To Welcome A New Member Into The Family
By Angela Blue
The temperature soars to the upper 80s as I approach the volunteer tent for Bark in the Park at Chesapeake City Park on this extraordinarily balmy October morning. I’m greeted by a group of people of all ages wearing orange shirts, and after asking my size, a woman hands me an orange volunteer shirt to match the rest of the group. I stand in a small circle with the others as Katie Fennig, volunteer coordinator for Chesapeake Humane Society, assigns volunteers to their stations. She explains that Bark in the Park is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser and that it’s important for us to try to raise as much money as possible—and to have fun.
I’m assigned to the retail tent working with Diana Snyder, who’s on the board of directors for CHS. She warmly greets me and shows me a lineup of beautiful gift baskets she’s created to sell at today’s event. “All of the items inside the baskets have been donated,” she explains. I browse the baskets, which are loaded with anything from training books to food bowls to toys. As Diana puts the finishing touches on our stand, she recalls that at last year’s Bark in the Park, it was so cold that the big topic for volunteers was imagining ways they would warm up once they got home. It would appear that at this year’s event, the “dog days” of summer are still in full effect.
People start arriving at noon, and the doggie diversions immediately begin. In a large ring to the left, I watch as a German Sheppard from the K-9 unit demonstrates an attack on one of the trained professionals wearing a padded coat, at the command of an officer. Later on in the ring, dogs dash back and forth, jumping over obstacles as owners clock their time. Other dogs bark in unison as if to cheer them on.
Nearly every attendee has brought with them a furry companion, although some have come in hopes of finding a new best friend to adopt. At one end of the park, I gaze at the largest dog I’ve ever seen, and at the other end, I get a glimpse of a dog so tiny it could be mistaken for a guinea pig. And of course there’s every size, shape, color and breed imaginable. I excitedly stand underneath the retail tent, waiting for owners to bring their dogs by for a visit. Most dogs immediately try to crawl underneath our stand for a moment to get out of the heat, and I take this opportunity to greet them with a pat on the head.
Some pooches are dressed in costume for the costume contest to be held later, and some are dressed like their owners for the lookalike contest. A few of the dogs even have pink- and purple-colored hair—surely the latest trend in fido fashion. One older gal, a poodle named Lady, is lovingly carried around by her owners because she gets tired from walking, and one cute Chihuahua is sporting a flowered dress and being pushed around in something similar to a baby stroller.
As I look around at all the happy dogs and their cheerful owners, I spot several dogs wearing bandanas that say, “Adopt Me.” At first I feel sorry for the dogs that don’t have a permanent home, but as I look around the park, I realize that many of the dog/owner relationships seen here today are a result of the Chesapeake Humane Society and their mission to link companion animals with responsible pet guardians. That assures me that these fine canines will most likely end up in a great home and can attend Bark in the Park next year with their loving owners.