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Bark For Life
Written by Bradley Schlegel Correspondent
2016-04-20

Larissa Burgert gets a kiss from Piper, a Yorkie/Schnauzer mix at the kissing booth.

Honors Canines as Caregivers

        As Janine Horning watched her father battle leukemia, she said he wanted nothing more than to spend time with his three dogs.

        "Being at home with the dogs was heaven to him," Horning said.

        In between two hospital stays, the dogs never left his side, especially when he was not feeling good, according to Horning.

        "They made him feel as comfortable as he could be," she said.

        Though Gary Horning died 12 months ago, two days short of his 57th birthday, Janine Horning continues to honor her father and all cancer survivors. The East Greenville resident, an active member of the American Cancer Society, served as the lead volunteer for Saturday's third annual Bark for Life Upper Perkiomen at Green Lane Park.

        The event, featuring several canine lovers and their masters, as well as a doggie kissing booth and more than 60 canine and human vendors, exceeded the fundraising goal of $10,000 before Saturday, according to Kati Ruggiano, a community manager with the American Cancer Society. 

        Ruggiano said the money, which totaled $10,500 prior to the event, raised will support research and provide services such as those at Hope Lodge.  There patients and caregivers can stay for free when seeking treatment that is far from home.  At Road to Recovery, volunteer drivers pick up patients and bring them to medical appointments when they have no other means of getting there, and at no cost to patients.

        Saturday's event, rescheduled from last fall, combined the Upper Perkiomen community with Upper Bucks County activists for the first time, according to Ruggiano.

        "The support of both communities has been outstanding. The organization, Relay For Life, and Bark For Life are beyond lucky to have so many dedicated volunteers in both communities who all work towards one thing, a future where cancer is nothing but a zodiac sign."

        Horning, the director of physical therapy at Therapy Plus in Quakertown, says raising awareness about the need to receive cancer screenings or the necessity of applying sunscreen are key components of the event.

        According to Jennifer Van Ingen, the event chairperson who lives in Palm, cancer patients find joy in caring for their pets.

        She said dogs, which can sense when their owner is in pain or in a depressed state, provide comfort.

        "In a certain manner, canines are the best caregivers," said Van Inglen, who attended the event with her Shih Tzu, Molly. "It's the one constant cancer patients have in their lives. It gives them a reason to get up in the morning."

        Cancer has impacted Van Ingen's family. Her grandmother suffered from lung and breast cancer, her uncle had bladder cancer and her grandfather died of brain cancer.

        Diagnosed at the same time as Phillies World Series hero Tug McGraw, Van Ingen's gradfather William Parker died 13 years ago, she said. His dog reportedly laid next to the bed, without moving, for several days.

        "The day my grandfather passed, the dog went under his bed and wouldn't come out," Van Ingen said.


 

 

 

 

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