By Cathy B. Koplen
---- — The second annual Bark for Life of Cooperstown/Northern Otsego County was a howling success in spite of the cold, blustery weather.
The event, held at Glimmerglass State Park, raised $6,000 for the American Cancer Society. It was a festival celebrating the companionship that dogs give to their owners. In addition to the walk, there was a dog show, agility course, concessions, crafts and several basket raffles.
Of the 87 paid participants, 82 registered with dogs.
“We came into the event $3,000 better than last year,” said Bark for Life Chairwoman Sherri Goodspeed at the event.
Last year, for the first Bark for Life, there were 43 paid participants, according to organizers.
“This year we allowed family members to pay an extra fee to participate in the walk with the dog and their handler,” Goodspeed said.
In addition to the festivities, an honored guest was featured.
“We have the Lily here,” Goodspeed said. “She is a dachshund who was thrown away in a box. She was rescued, and her owner wrote a book about her. We want people to know that good things can come out of bad things.”
“One person can make a difference,” she added.
Lily the Dachshund was rescued by Cyndi West who wrote the book, ‘Lily in the Box.’ West donates proceeds from the book to the Animal Shelter of Schoharie Valley.
Goodspeed opened the event in the shelter as snow pelted the ground. She welcomed the participants and explained the importance of Bark for Life.
“This event allows dogs to participate in this cause – and it honors them for their undying love,” Goodspeed said to the group of participants. “They are touched by cancer as we all are. They don’t understand what is going on when their person has cancer.”
After a prayer and the national anthem sung by cancer survivor Rachael Fisher, the walk began with 16 cancer survivors taking an honorary lap around the West Shelter at Glimmerglass. Those attending cheered and applauded the cancer survivors.
The mile and a half Bark for Life walk took off from the shelter behind two banners. People walked in groups with their dogs heeling on leashes.
Chris Utegg, of Milford, and her sister Denise Sutliff, of Brewerton, brought their dogs out to the walk in memory of a family member.
“My husband’s daughter passed away last year,” Sutliff said. “She had a little dog that brought her such comfort when she was taking chemotherapy.”
Utegg’s team of walkers was honored as a marshal of the event carrying the lead ‘Fight Back’ banner.
“Chris was our top fundraiser last year,” Goodspeed said. “She is one of our marshals.”
Several people raised money for Bark for Life as a team of walkers.
Sherry Hierholzer, of Springfield, walked with the teamed called ‘Golden Girls.’
“We are walking with Tracy Richmond,” Hierholzer said. “She is a survivor. She has a Golden Retriever and has blond hair – so we are the ‘Golden Girls.’”
Hierholzer had her Saint Bernard, Jakie, with her on the walk.
“He is a therapy dog,” Hierholzer said. “I take him to nursing homes. You wouldn’t believe how much they love him. They don’t mind his drool at all. Some of these people have not petted a dog in a long time.”
A few people walked dogs that are sheltered at the Susquehanna SPCA.
“I don’t have a dog,” Goodspeed said. “I am one of the ones walking a shelter dog.”