Marysville's Bark for Life raises $5,000 | SLIDESHOW

MARYSVILLE — The annual Marysville Bark For Life at Asbery Field raised an estimated $5,000 on Saturday, May 18, with 52 dog-walkers who signed up online and roughly another 20 who showed up the morning of the event with their canine companions in tow.

Joann Knott walked the track that day with her daughter’s dog Hoodie, a 4-year-old mixed breed, but it was her mother’s dog Daisy, who was also in attendance, that was foremost on her mind.

“My mother passed away from ovarian cancer last July,” said Knott, who started “Team Daisy” in honor of both her mother, Lafern Lian, and her mother’s dog. “When she found out it was inoperable, the first thing she said was, ‘What about Daisy? Who’s going to take care of her?’”

Jodee Ensman’s daughter was more fortunate, although it might not have seemed that way at first.

“She broke her leg and had a CAT scan to check if there were any blood clots,” said Ensman, while she walked her own dog Petunia. “That was how they caught her kidney cancer in the early stages, since it’s one of the hardest cancers to detect otherwise. It was a good break.”

While Stephanie Earling of the American Cancer Society won the smallest dog contest for her 4-year-old Chihuahua Cricket, Lisa Bartholomew’s 2-year-old Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Kahne won the title of the largest dog at the event.

“I’ve lost many members of my family to cancer,” said Bartholomew, who counts her grandparents and one of her uncles among her relatives whose lives have been claimed by cancer, while one of her aunts is a survivor. “We’ve raised $900 for Relay For Life so far. When my uncle was sick, he had two Swiss dogs of his own, and they would nap outside with him.”

“A common theme among the cancer survivors I’ve talked to is the impact that dogs can have on their healing,” Earling said. “Canine caregivers offer unconditional love and extra support.”

While Danita Pace is a survivor of cervical cancer, her husband Richard is still fighting the cancer in his liver, and she agreed that the mere presence of their 9-year-old Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Riley has provided them both with a huge boost.

“He gives us comfort, a lot of laughs and some big smiles,” Pace said.

One of the nearly half-dozen dogs that Judith and Lee Piper brought from Old Dog Haven, a 3-year-old Miniature Schnauzer named Allen, is himself a cancer survivor. While the Pipers hope to find homes for the adoptable dogs, they also praised the Bark For Life for generating support for those affected by cancer and their dogs.

“I consider myself lucky,” said Judith Piper, a two-time cancer survivor who weathered breast cancer 23 years ago and colon cancer 10 years ago. “My friend died just last month of cancer. It’s really cool to see everyone out here involved in this cause.”

“We’re really grateful that the rain held off, and that we got so many positive people to attend,” Earling said.

The Marysville Relay For Life will kick off at Asbery Field at noon on June 29, and run through the morning of the following day. For more information, log onto


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