Community support brings canine advocates and caretakers together

Eight dogs and their owners participated in the ‘laundry game.’ First place went to Paige and eight-year-old ‘Cricket.’ photos by Sharon Jackson

by Sharon Jackson

KAGAWONG— Bark in the Park is more than dogs and their owners meeting once a year. It is an opportunity for advocates, caretakers and community to come together.

Members of the Billings Recreation Committee, led by Carol Corneau, welcomed pet owners and their four-legged friends, close to 50 of them, to the fifth annual event.

What started out as a one-year pilot project in 2011 has become an overwhelming success. “Regulars” meet each Sunday at 1 pm to socialize ‘man’s best friend’ and catch up on what is going on in their lives.

Play time and games for the pets is just one great thing about Bark in the Park. Recreation Committee member and Master of Ceremonies Jill Ferguson thanked everyone for coming and made special mention of the vendors and breeders in attendance who offer their knowledge as advocates and caretakers.

Ms. Ferguson also noted the strong community support of the (Island’s only off leash) dog park in maintaining great opportunities, stating dogs “shouldn’t spend their lives on a leash.”

Trees have been donated by former Recreation Committee member Roger Lloyd and will be planted next spring. True to his word, MPP Mike Mantha donated three crab apple trees and two decommissioned fire hydrants. Unfortunately, due to another commitment Mr. Mantha was unable to participate in this year’s event. He was in attendance at the leash cutting ceremony (to kick off the pilot project) along with MP Carol Hughes at 2011’s Summer Fest.

Labradoodle Jackson and his human Jamie compete in the coconut relay taking the prize in the final heat. Fierce competition was given by Bear and Simba.
Labradoodle Jackson and his human Jamie compete in the coconut relay taking the prize in the final heat. Fierce competition was given by Bear and Simba.

Julie McDermid, coordinator of Magical Paws Pet Therapy, was on hand with River Girl and Muddy Waters to bring awareness and information about an organization whose motto is ‘giving unconditional love to all those they touch.’

A therapy dog is trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, group homes, day centres, schools, people with learning difficulties and stressful situations. Magical Paws recognizes the community need for pet therapy as they provide unconditional love and affection.

Ms. McMermid also had emergency alert wallet cards for sale. Information on it makes people aware there is a pet at home that will require care should its owner be hospitalized or for some other reason, become unable to care for it.

Ms. McDermid volunteers for Golden Rescue, SAINTS, Manitoulin Island Pets Needing New Homes and is an advocate for the safety of pets especially during the hot summer months by partnering with businesses to purchase and post a sign ‘Please do not leave your dog in the car, temperatures rise fast. Call 911 if you see a dog is in distress.’ These signs are posted at several Island businesses.

Dog breeder Molly Denton of Arcreya Registered Chihuahuas lives on a farm in Evansville along with several other dogs besides the chihuahuas. Certified with the CKC (Canadian Kennel Club), Ms. Denton has been in business since 1998.

Her puppies and grown dogs were a hit with everyone who visited her display.

Ms. Denton’s puppies are “happy, healthy, socialized and raised in-home.” With champion bloodlines, her chihuahuas come with a three year written health guarantee. For more information, visit

Small dogs took to the fenced in area during a social time, followed by the larger dogs and any smaller ones who felt they could hold their own.

Musical chairs, coconut relay and dress up races drew enthusiastic participation from the dogs and their owners. Winners were miniature huskie Simba, labradoodle Jackson and black Lab Cricket. Fierce competition was offered by Bear, a nine-month-old chocolate Lab. Sondra Corneau won the scavenger hunt receiving a pet first aid kit, generously donated by Dr. Johanne Paquette of the Island Animal Hospital.

2016 will mark the fifth anniversary of the dog park. For more information visit