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Dogs, owners dress for a cause

Jennifer Sprouse • Oct 27, 2012 at 10:30 PM

While there are usually plenty of tales associated with the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, there were plenty of other tails present in the center’s park on Saturday.

Dogs and their owners, some in costume, some not, made a beeline to the registration table for this year’s American Cancer Society’s Bark for Life.

Anthony Piercy, community representative for the Northeast Tennessee chapter of the American Cancer Society, was busy registering people and their animals Saturday. He said the event is a spin-off of the ACS’s signature event, Relay for Life.

“People are not allowed to bring their dogs to the Relay for Life, so what we did was we created this event and it’s set up the exact same way Relay is,” Piercy said. “Technically, the people are still asking for the donations, but a lot of them send letters to family and friends that are from their dogs and they ask for donations to the American Cancer Society.”

Participants paid $10 to enter the event and Piercy said the crowd had definitely increased from years past, with 75 dogs attending Saturday’s festivities.

Being an event that is primarily pup friendly, dogs at the event had multiple activities to choose from, including the Strut Your Mutt Parade of Dogs, K9 Police Demonstration from the Jonesborough Police Department and the Happy Tails Calendar Contest.

Piercy said that each year dogs compete for a top fundraising spot for a chance to be in the Jonesborough Herald and Tribune’s publication Happy Tails.

“The top 12 fundraising dogs are the months of the calendar and then the top fundraising dog goes on the cover of the calendar,” he said. “There’s some stiff competition.”

The emcee of the event was Nate Morabito, who helped introduce and give prizes away for the other contestants in the categories of:

- Biggest Dog.

- Smallest Dog.

- Oldest Dog.

- Youngest Dog.

- Best Trick.

- Best Costume.

- Happiest Tail Wag.

- Dog/Owner Look Alike.

- Loudest Barker.

- Best in Show.

- Second Best in Show.

- Third Best in Show.

Annie McKinley’s 9-year-old standard poodle Jack took Best in Show for this year’s contest, sporting a rock star hairdo complete with a lime green feather boa.

McKinley, proud of her prize-winning pup, said the event was a lot of fun for both the owners and the dogs.

“Everybody seems to be really friendly and I think the dogs are really having a good time,” she said. “I know I am. I’m glad I came out.”

Cara Ledbetter, executive director of the local ACS chapter, said she was pleased to see the turnout for the event.

“This event has been going on for about five years and it’s increasing in size every year, so we’re thrilled to see all of this participation at the Jonesborough Storytelling Center,” Ledbetter said.

She said all of the money raised from Saturday’s event goes toward patient programs and services, as well as research and education for the ACS. With this year’s increased numbers, Ledbetter said she could see this local event eventually grow into Bark for Life at a regional level where people could bring their dogs from all over Northeast Tennessee.

“We have a ton of people who want to know how their dogs can participate with them through Relay for Life, so this is our outlet,” she said. “This is why we do Bark for Life.”

According to Piercy, Saturday’s Bark for Life raised more than $9,000 and the top fundraising dog was Capt. Jack Sparrow.

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