When some of the regulars arrived at the Field of Dogs in San Rafael, they found something special waiting for them ... and their canine companions.
Meagan Dowdall and her family and friends set up the inaugural San Rafael Bark for Life at the dog park across the street from the Marin County Civic Center on Sunday morning. About 50 people paid $20 to join the event with their dogs. Money raised from Sunday's Bark for Life benefits the American Cancer Society and the Field of Dogs.
The event is a precursor to the San Rafael Relay for Life, to be held at the College of Marin Kentfield Campus on August 25-26, from 10 a.m. to 10 a.m.
"I get people asking if they can take their dogs on the track at the Relay for Life and it hurts me to say 'Only service dogs,'" Dowdall said. "This is a way to include them and their dogs and to honor the dogs we've lost."
Dowdall lost one of her beloved dogs to cancer three weeks ago and was inspired to establish a local Bark for Life as a reminder that our pets are not immune to the disease. Dowdall, her mother and cohorts sold goodies, shirts and more. Novato High School senior Kirsten Davidson volunteered to help make luminaria to be displayed during the Relay for Life.
"We've never made dog treats before, but we were up all night baking peanut butter doggie treats in our kitchen," Dowdall said.
Terriers, German Shepherds and labrador retrievers mingled with other dogs at the park space, which was donated for the Bark for Life by the Field of Dogs. Maggie showed her support as she squeezed two of her four paws into a Relay for Life shirt and wore a pink bandana around her collar.
Similar events have been held in other locations across the Bay Area and the country.
"I'm crossing my fingers that we find a cure for cancer soon and I believe we'll find a cure for canine cancer real soon," Dowdall said.