Linda Poley, of Maple Glen, and her dog, Schemer, at last year’s Bark for Life. (Photo by Greg Mitchell)

by Jodi Benjamin

On Saturday morning, Oct. 12, Fort Washington State Park will be awash in color, but not just from the breathtaking fall foliage. There may be a splash of vibrant orange from a pumpkin-clad Tibetan Terrier or a flash of red and blue from a Chocolate Lab in a Superman costume. Eagles’ green will undoubtedly be on display on dogs of all varieties. And, if we’re lucky, the Chihuahuas dressed as mariachis will be back, sporting sombreros and rainbow-colored capes.

These costume-clad canines will be descending on the park for the annual Bark For Life of Montgomery County, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Replete with contests and games, pet vendors, raffle baskets and a one-mile dog walk, Bark For Life is a fun-filled morning open to all dog owners and their pets.

But it is also something more. The proceeds of this event support the American Cancer Society in its mission “to save lives, celebrate lives and lead the fight for a world without cancer.”

ACS pursues this mission by funding important and innovative research, as well as providing vital services to cancer patients, such as rides to treatment and 24-hour cancer information. ACS also runs facilities called Hope Lodge near hospitals throughout the country – our local one in Cheltenham – giving patients who travel for treatment a free place to stay.

At Bark For Life, dogs and their owners will head off for their one-mile walk within the tapestry of color that defines a fall morning in Fort Washington State Park. But before they do, a cancer survivor will speak briefly about how the love from her dog helped sustain her through her battle with cancer.

Later, dogs will have the opportunity to participate in silly contests, such as best trick and best pooch-smooch challenges, as well as the hilarious dog and owner look-alike competition. And of course, there’s the costume contest, won last year by a “colony” of Golden Retrievers called the “Bee-trievers.”

Sue Brint (left) and Laura Lipkin, both of Erdenheim, and their dogs, Molly and Opal, respectively, are seen at the 2018 Bark For Life event. (Photo by Greg Mitchell)

Pam Snyder, a longtime Bark For Life organizer, described the event as “a fun day for people to be out with their dogs while raising money for cancer research, patient support and other services. It’s a great way to celebrate the role dogs play in supporting and comforting cancer patients and their caregivers.”

This year, the event has been relocated to a more spacious pavilion in the park, which makes it easier for Bark For Life to be a rain-or-shine event. The pavilion will be lined with raffle baskets and vendor tables for people to browse. Rescue organizations will be represented, as will a variety of artisans selling doggy bandanas, collars, treat mats and more. Talented local artist Melissa Russell, who does pet portraits, will also have a table under the pavilion at the event.

Bark For Life is grateful to its contributing sponsor, Fox Chase Cancer Center East Norriton Hospital Outpatient Center. With the support of Fox Chase, the vendors, raffle donors and, of course, the many community members with their beloved pets, Bark hopes to make a significant contribution to fighting cancer and improving the quality of life for cancer patients.

Bark For Life will be held at the Militia Hill Area Lot #3 of Fort Washington State Park, which can be accessed by entering the park via 6250 Joshua Rd., Fort Washington. The registration fee is a $30 donation to the American Cancer Society, and for those families with more than one dog, it’s a $10 donation for each additional dog.

For more information or to register your dog for the event, visit RelayforLife.org/BfLMontco. Questions can be directed to Pam Snyder at pamtsny@hotmail.com or 215-582-8865, or to Morgan Robinson at morgan.robinson@cancer.org or 215-985-5361.

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