Susie Alvarez was holding her dog, Smoky, that morning tightly in her arms. A purple bandana was tied around the dog’s neck – a symbol of the Relay for Life.
She was there for her father, David Alvarez of Mathis. He died three years ago of cancer.
This was the first year for Bark for Life – a variation of Relay for Life, which raises money for cancer research. And with about $1,000 raised from this and other related benefits related to Bark for Life, organizers were thrilled.
All of the money raised went to the American Cancer Society.
Maranatha Church of God Pastor Ben Drewry, in his blessing of the pets, said, “Thank you, God, for creating animals that one day became our friend.
“Thank you for that great loyalty and love that knows no end...
“They are always so glad to see us. Their antics bring a smile to our face.
“We are so thankful for our gift of pets that soften the hearts of the human race.”
It was this love of their pets that sparked the interest in creating this event.
The dogs took center stage at this ceremony, as nearly 20 pets and their owners gathered at Poesta Creek Park to compete in costume, pet look alike and best trick contests.
“This is the first one ever in this part of Texas,” said NormaGrace Flores, chair of the event. “The one closest to us is in Kerrville.”
Flores said that she and Adrianna McKinnon, committee member, have been working together on the event, “because we love our dogs, and dogs aren’t allowed at the actual relay.”
“This is an opportunity to do extra fund-raising for the actual Relay for Life event.
“So far, we have raised about $1,000. That is excellent.
“We were not expecting to raise that amount of money.”
McKinnon said, “Hopefully, this will be an annual event, and we can bring more doggies from the community.”
Flores said that they were initially concerned, because registration in September started slowly but, as word spread, both online and in the newspaper, it picked up.
“We are hoping to do it again next year, she said.
In fact, she is already making those plans.
This year, she said, they asked that people not form teams like the traditional Relay for Life.
Next year, she hopes word spreads and they are able to grow the event and include many of the events, like the luminarias and team relays in the Bark for Life.
Flores said, “It is a new event, and not a lot of people knew what this event entailed. Hopefully, after this, it will bring more interest to the event.
“Hopefully, next year, it will be bigger and better with more people.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.