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Ford City's Bark for Life raises money for American Cancer Society

| Monday, April 29, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Members of the H.A.N.K Club (Helping a Neighbor’s K-9) practice some advanced training drills while socializing along Kittanning’s Riverfront Park. Club members are among those who plan to participate in the 5th annual Bark for Life of Ford City event at Shannock Valley Community Park in Cowanshannock on Saturday. Brigid Beatty | Leader Times

It's possible that taking Fido for a walk could end up being more than just a stroll in the park — it might actually help save a life.

This year marks the 5th annual Bark for Life of Ford City event to help raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Ruth Curry of Manor Township is organizing the Saturday event in Shannock Valley Community Park in Cowanshannock.

“It's a mini-relay, one lap and about a mile long,” said Curry.

She said the day promises to be a fun event for dogs and dog owners alike. Not only is the park dog-friendly, but it has a paved trail that is wheelchair-accessible. Those who register for the event will receive a bandana and a treat bag for their four-footed pals. Water will be provided.

And there will be plenty of games to entertain humans and canines including one similar to musical chairs called musical sit.

Also planned is a tail wagging contest, an owner and pet look-a-like contest and a leaping contest.

Even though the day will be full of fun and games, there will be room for some reflection and remembrance of beloved family pets.

Luminaries will be placed on the Rainbow Bridge to honor pets that have passed away, said Curry.

Those luminaries can be brought to the Ford City Athletic field grounds at the Relay for Life event on June 8.

H.A.N.K Club

Members of the H.A.N.K Club (Helping a Neighbor's K-9) are among those planning to attend the Bark for Life event.

Betsy Sanders, owner of Walnut Grove Boarding Kennel and Obedience in East Franklin, founded the club in 2006 in memory of Hank, her late, beloved Labrador retriever.

For the most part, the club is made up of clients who have been through Sanders' obedience classes.

“Everybody with a dog is welcome as long as the dog isn't aggressive,” said Sanders.

In early April, half a dozen dogs and their human club members met near a gazebo in Kittanning's Riverfront Park for some advanced training, socialization and fun.

The club, which is the only dog club in Armstrong County, seemed to be a big hit with those attending — judging from the wagging tails and human laughter.

“We definitely have a lot of fun,” said Vicki McGaughey of Kittanning Township, who was working with one of Sanders' dogs.

McGaughey's dog, C.J., a Labrador shepherd mix, died on Sept. 18, his birthday.

C.J. had lymphoma, said McGaughey, and had always participated in Bark for Life.

H.A.N.K. Club participants pay $5 in monthly dues which gets added to a pot that is split between the Animal Medical Pavilion and Altmeyer Veterinary Hospital to help cover costs for emergency pet care.

In the past, club dues helped fund oxygen masks for animals which were distributed to ambulance services in the area.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or

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