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    Dogs compete, raise funds for cancer society

    NewsDog EventsWednesday 07 March 2012
    Fritchie Park was the scene of nearly 100 dogs, some in costumes, some color-dyed blue and others wearing leprechaun hats Sunday during the Bark for Life’s “Bark Heard Around the World” event.
    The event was a fundraiser in association with the Relay for Life, which raised money for the American Cancer Society, according to chairwoman and coordinator of the event, Jennifer McDonald. Bark for Life is a precursor event for the East St. Tammany Relay for life, said McDonald.
    “It’s a great day to come out with your dog and raise money for the American Cancer Society,” said McDonald. “It’s amazing that so many people came out to support such a great cause.”
    The park was filled with pets, whose owners signed waivers upon entering, stating they were healthy and up-to-date on their shots. Also, a large bounce house for kids was stationed in the center, and surrounding it were several booths, some with merchandise and others supporting families of relatives who died from breast cancer.
    Several merchandise booths, including businesses from Café Du Bone’s Dog Bakery and Boutique to Little Bit and the Big Bits, sold mini dog treats, T-shirts and other souvenirs.
    For some the event was a way to get out of the house and spend the day with their beloved pet. For others it was a day of awareness, supporting the fight against breast cancer as well as finding a cure.
    One booth in particular, titled “Leprechaun’s Pot O’ Gold for a Cure,” was draped in green and sold dog bows with the proceeds going to ACS. The booth also honored Joann Horvath, who died of breast cancer in July 2011.
    “The leprechauns are usually fighting for a pot of gold, but today they’re willing to give up their pot of gold for a cure,” said Pamela Breaux, whose daughter Emily is engaged to Ricky Horvath, Joann’s son.
    The group, consisting of Horvath’s relatives and the Breauxs, described Joann as a huge dog lover who ran a dog grooming shop in Arena Plaza, Chalmette, and even took care of Juno, a boxer, who is now Ricky’s dog.
    During the Bark for Life event Pam’s husband Kenny walked Juno by booths and past fellow canines.
    “When she (Juno) was with Joann, she was 60 pounds,” joked Emily, who said Joann always spoiled her pet.
    She later said Juno was Joann’s “companion and protector” until her death.
    Not far down the gravel road from the Leprechaun’s tent was another booth titled “Together on Sheila’s Wing.”
    “Shelia was my cousin and passed away of breast cancer six years ago,” said Rochelle Pedersen, who also lost both her parents to cancer.
    Sheila Nunez-Lacour began to get sick in 2004 then got better in 2006, according to Tammy Nunez-Miller, Sheila’s sister. She later relapsed, but this time the breast cancer spread to her liver, which ultimately took her life in October 2006. Sheila’s friends and relatives have been fighting in her honor ever since.
    “Five and a half years ago we got to do relay with her before she got sick again,” said Nunez-Miller. “Hopefully, she is proud of us.”
    This will mark the second year Tammy has attended Bark for Life, and in April it will mark the seventh year she’s participated in Relay for Life.
    “It’s changed my life,” said Pedersen. “It feels good to know you’re doing something to fight it.”
    The Bark for Life’s “Bark Heard Around the World” earned $7,000 online before the day’s event even began, according to McDonald. After the event, the total tallied to $14,500 with the proceeds going to the ACS.
    Throughout the day, WWL-TV4’s Chief Meterologist Carl Arrendondo participated as the emcee for the Bark for Life’s dog competitions.
    Winners included: Best Costume Contest, Little Bit and the Big Bits; Love Letters to Your Pet Contest, Ashley Jones; Dog and Owner Look-a-like Contest, Josh Hood and his dog Scout; and Precious Pets Contest, “Luke” Doran.
    The Relay for Life will be held April 28 at the Slidell Municipal Airport, starting at 4:30 p.m.  In order to sign up for the Relay for Life or get a team started, visit the online registration page here.
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