Four-legged fundraisers get their day this weekend at LifeWalk with the return of the pet-friendly LifeBark
Take a hike
LifeWalk is one of the easer events on foot around town. With only a 5k distance and the leisure of walking, it’s a total snap.
19th Annual AIDS LifeWalk, Lee Park, 3400 Turtle Creek Blvd. Oct. 11 at noon. Lifewalk.org.
The power of a dog is not one to mess around with. Although they only require shelter and food from humans, they instinctively seem to know that their sweet eyes and wagging tail can get an owner to stop whatever just to scratch their ears or rub their tummy. Their unconditional love is too strong to resist.
The people behind LifeWalk figured this out two years ago when they began LifeBark.
"Dog lovers cross all boundaries," says Margaret Byrne of AIDS Arms Inc., which sponsors the annual fundraiser to help people with AIDS. "So we started thinking to maybe get dogs involved. It was another fun way of keeping the event fresh and interesting,"
When Byrne joined AIDS Arms in 2005, they had a count of approximately 2,500 participants at that year’s event. Last year, the number rose to 10,000.
See? That’s the power of the pooch.
This is nothing new in the gay community, of course. For years, the Easter Pooch Parade has attracted diva Dachshunds and fabulous fox terriers who pay 10 bucks to strut their stuff on the — gasp! — catwalk.
"It broadened the audience to attract to the event and offered awareness for people who might not have attended," Byrne says. "Dog lovers like to be around other dog lovers. You love your dogs and you talk about them."
They can be handy fundraisers as well. All entering dogs get their own fundraiser form, complete with a designer LifeWalk bandanna. And with those puppy dog eyes, they might well melt most anyone into donating to the cause. Byrne even admits her friends would probably donate more to her dog than to her.
LifeBark will also be one dog’s moment to shine.
"At the park, we’ll announce America’s Top Dog. People will vote for their favorite dog by making a donation in that dog’s name," she says.
For the canines, it’s mostly just a walk in the park. But they get their share of lavish treatments as well. Once the walk is finished, they can head to Doggie Land at Lee Park where the festivities culminate.
While the humans can take some time to relax in the park with a beer or a picnic and enjoy the Turtle Creek Chorale concert, dogs can splash around in — or drink from — the puppy pools. Should a dog want a baby brother or sister, pet adoptions will be close by. They can also ham up their cuteness for the dog photographer at the park.
AIDS Arms covers all its bases too. For any emergencies, veterinarians are on site and Pet Butler is close at hand picking up the poop.
"This is our third year for LifeBark. Other than the dog parks, there aren’t that many places or events for dogs," Byrne says.
Clearly, they fell under a dog’s spell to host one. Who’s a good charity? Who?! You is!
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 9, 2009.
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