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by Brenna Fender


Fundraising for K9 Cancer Gets Down & Dirty

By Brenna Fender with photos by Martha Veatch

The German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America honored the memories of GSPs and other lost to cancer, and particularly the recent loss of a well-known, multi-titled bitch named Shania, by fundraising for Chase Away K9 Cancer at the GSPCA AKC agility trial held March 4-7, 2010. The fundraising efforts began in the weeks before the trial as a group of GSP owners organized the purchase of bandanas made especially for the cause by Vivian Davis, who also created donation vests for two dogs to wear around the show site. With 80 orders for bandanas at $10 each, the fundraiser was off to a good start.

A week before the trial, Jean Lavalley celebrated her dog Spec’s MACH2 at the Decatur Alabama Kennel Club trial on February 27, 2010 by collecting funds that her friends would have spent on toys or other gifts. That raised another approximately $250 for the Chase Away K9 Cancer cause.

When the GSPCA event began, club members announced that they were raising money in the name of Shania, a GSP that was owned by Sandy and Sid Gonchar of Staten Island, New York. More bandanas were sold, and the vest-wearing GSPs walked around the trial and collected more cash.

At the judges dinner on Friday night, judge Scott Stock made a bold offer. “I told Stacy Moss (the trial chair) that I had in the past run the Standard course in Staten Island for charity. I said if she could raise $500 I would run it at the trial on Sunday,” says Stock.

The next morning, Stock and Moss asked equipment owner Joel Lavalley if the idea would be OK with him. Lavalley not only agreed, he offered to race Stock if $1000 was donated. As the courses were being set, the two bantered over making extra donations based on who won.

Then Lavalley got a bigger idea. Judge Blair Kelly was known for wearing white pants while judging. Would Kelly run the course himself in his white attire if an additional $1000 was raised? Kelly said yes, although, he says, “I honestly did not think they could raise an additional $1,000.”

Announcements were made and the donations poured in. By the end of the day, enough money had been raised to put Stock and Lavalley through their paces on Sunday. Kelly thought he might escape his run. “Several people commented to me that if they had known about the fundraiser, they would have brought their check books, but all they had was cash on them. Stacy with confidence assured me that they would raise the money to get me to run. I thought her confidence was misplaced. I did not see how they would raise the money,” says Kelly.

Overnight, though, Kelly got concerned. “I remember waking up in the middle of the night thinking ‘My God, what if they raise the money?’” Kelly’s big concern was the dogwalk. “What if I fell and broke a leg? I had judging assignments the next two weekends! What had I got myself in for?” he asked.

He was soon to find out. The next morning at the Excellent Standard ring, Moss announced that $2000 has been raised. Scott challenged Moss to run as well if another $100 was raised. It was immediately donated. The “dogs” selected handlers and their runs took place after the small dogs finished theirs.

The only change made on the course was the tire, which was traded for a regular jump. Don’t think that this was done for the comfort of the handlers. Lavalley was concerned about potential damage to the tire!

Spectators crowded around the ring to watch the “show,” judged by competitor Don Farage. Stock, handled by Gene Glastetter, ran first, entertaining the crowds with his moves. He jumped 20", an impressive feat. Lavalley (with wife, Jean, handling) ran next, donning knee pads beneath his pants to avoid scraping his knees in the chute like Stock did. Kelly barely dirtied his white pants as he ran the course with his four-year-old handler, Lauren Denereaz. And Moss and her handler, Jamie Herren, had a great run, finishing clean like Lavalley did (both Stock and Kelly went off course).

Most of the participants remarked at how exhausting it was to run the course. Kelly says, “I think that was the biggest lesson that I learned from the experience—how physically exhausting it is to run an agility course as the dog. Both Joel and Scott also commented on this fact. It always amazes me that we can get our dogs to run agility courses, now I am doubly amazed that they do it given the physical challenges.” Stock agrees with Kelly: “People do not realize how hard it is to do. The typical standard course is 160+ yards. That means that you’re sprinting a football field and a half. Oh and for ‘fun’ let’s put some hurdles and tunnels in the way. By far, the hardest part is the tunnels because you cannot crawl through them. You end up pulling yourself through on your belly.”

The fundraising event added a lot of excitement and camaraderie to the trial. Jean Lavalley says, “The atmosphere over the weekend was one of great closeness within the agility community. All of us were pulling together for a cause we could relate to, all having been touched by cancer at some time. It was amazing seeing so many people willing to stand ringside watching, filming, and laughing on a Sunday, unconcerned that we were putting ourselves 15 to 30 minutes behind the normal schedule. It was a great day!”

Not only was the addition of the fundraiser fun, it was quite productive. Martha Veatch, one of the organizers, says she collected more than $4,000 total to send to Chase Away K-9 Cancer!

Visit http://www.chaseawayk9cancer.org/ for more information on how you can contribute to this cause.

Judge Scott Stock running the course with handler Gene Glastetter.

Joel Lavalley with handler Jean Lavalley.

Judge Blair Kelly and his handler, four-year-old Lauren Denereaz.