Horace Langford Jr. / Pahrump Valley Times - Lillian Donohugh and friends during Bark for life Saturday.
Horace Langford Jr./PVT - Chanda Wieland walking her leashed cat Gatto during Back for life Saturday.
A weekend event for dogs and their owners helped raise approximately $900 for a local chapter of the American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life on Saturday.
The “Bark for Life” fundraiser, a play on words for the cancer society’s annual spring event, was held from 9 a.m. to noon at Petrack Park as a fun way to raise money for the main event.
Bark for Life mimicked the actual Relay for Life in both name and style as attendees walked their canine companions on a miniature track, painted on one of the park’s fields, to raise money and awareness for the organization’s cause.
Event Chair Desiree Foshee said she hoped to raise a significant amount of money through the dog walk to help fund the next Relay for Life event, which is scheduled to take place May 16 of next year.
“Our goal is to eradicate cancer, we want no more cancer in the world,” she said. “We’re just raising funds for research and would like to eradicate the disease. There is not a person alive who hasn’t been touched in some way by this horrible disease and we want it gone, that’s our goal.”
Foshee estimated somewhere between 25 and 30 dogs, and one cat, participated in Saturday’s event.
Owners donated $10 per animal they brought to walk with them, and some brought more than that to donate to the cause.
Local attorney Lillian Donohue, herself a cancer survivor, brought her four Standard Poodles to participate in the event and donated $500 the morning of the walk.
In addition to walking, participants were also treated to raffles and a demonstration from the Nye County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit, who came out to participate in the event as well.
Deputy James McRae, who’s been involved with the K-9 division since 2007, explained to spectators the NCSO program has nine dogs working throughout the county — six here in Pahrump and three in the northern sector near Tonopah.
He said each dog is highly trained to detect illegal substances such as marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin as well as to protect their handlers.
Although McRae noted some people think narcotics dogs are addicted to the drugs they search for, he explained they actually associate the scent of the narcotics with their toys, which is why they are excited to find the illicit materials when asked to search for them.
“As you can see he associates that narcotic there as a ball, he thinks there is a tennis ball, or a Kong in there,” McRae explained as fellow K-9 Deputy Greg Curtin asked his 5-year-old German Shepherd partner Pad to look for a bag of meth hidden in a paper bag near his vehicle.
After the officers demonstrated how the trained dogs are used to find illegal substances, McRae then donned a thick arm sleeve as he and Curtin showed spectators how they train their dogs to find and stop potentially violent individuals.
McRae explained even though it doesn’t hurt the officers when the dogs bite them through the specialized gear, they have to act like it does to build the dog’s confidence.
Though Curtin’s dog Pad appeared very friendly with the two deputies, McRae reminded the public they should always ask if it’s OK to pet an officer’s dog before approaching.
“These dogs are trained machines, as I call them. They do exactly what we ask them to do, but they still have their typical dog instincts when it comes to things, so it’s always very important for the public when you see a deputy sheriff out with his dog that you don’t just up and approach the animal, that’s very dangerous as the dog is trained to protect the handler, so you want to make sure the dog doesn’t take you as a threat,” he said.
“It’s always a good thing when you walk up to keep a good distance and ask ‘may I pet your dog?’ ‘May I approach you and talk to you for a minute?’ It’s always a good idea to ask the handler if it’s OK because there are certain dogs in our program because they are what is referred to as a typical 100 percent police dog. They’re here to work, they’re not here to be friendly to outside people other than the handler,” the deputy added.
Through donations and admissions fee from each animal brought to Saturday’s event, American Cancer Society Staff Person Shannon Moore said the organization estimated Bark for Life raised around $900 in all for the Relay for Life event.
For more information on how to get involved with Relay for Life or how to register for the May event, visit PahrumpRelay.org or call Event Chair Chanda Weiland at 616-902-0692.