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Dogs help fight cancer at Bark for Life in St. John's this weekend

Sinbad is remembered for helping his human, Jeremy Waddleton, get through cancer treatments. Dogs can help fight cancer another way this weekend at Bark for Life, a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society.
Sinbad is remembered for helping his human, Jeremy Waddleton, get through cancer treatments. Dogs can help fight cancer another way this weekend at Bark for Life, a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society.

When Jeremy Waddleton was diagnosed with cancer at age 18, he took a lot of comfort in his dog, Sinbad.

Jeremy Waddleton is a cancer survivor who knows first-hand how a dog’s love can help a person get through treatment.

Waddleton went through several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation as he battled nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and he spent a lot of time in bed in the Janeway. But when he was home, Sinbad — who’d been a member of his family since Waddleton was in Grade 2 — would hardly leave his side.

“When I was sick, he was getting old, so he wasn't as energetic. So he would just curl up in a ball and just sleep next to me,” Waddleton told The Telegram.

“You do get in a fit of depression. You kind of get upset about everything, and you take everything a little stronger than you should. And I found having a dog around, he's not asking you how you're doing or anything like that. He doesn't treat you any differently. And I found it kind of helped to have at least something around to make you feel a little more normal.”

His girlfriend, Stephanie Mayne, remembers Sinbad’s role in Waddleton’s recovery.

“It was clear that Sinbad had a massive impact on Jeremy. Sinbad acted as if he knew Jeremy wasn't well, and would even wait for permission to jump up on his bed (something he would never wait to be told to do before),” she told The Telegram. “The dog would never leave his side, and would even play in a more gentle fashion. Jeremy was Sinbad's world during his time on Earth. I've never seen a dog so in sync with a human before.”

Sinbad died last year at 18 years old.

He showed the couple how influential a dog can be for someone who is ill.

“Luckily, a massive part of the battle of cancer is mindset,” Mayne said. “And I can guarantee you, when a dog is present (whether it is yours or even a therapy dog), it can take your mind away from the treatments, the appointments and the doctors — if even only for a couple of minutes. To be a loved one who gets to observe the smile that a dog can bring to the face of someone suffering is something that is priceless.”

Waddleton and Mayne plan to get a dog in the fall, and will train him as a therapy dog.

“We both want to be able to witness the smiles that are created when you bring a dog to someone who just needs a cuddle with a fluffy friend,” Mayne said.

 

Bark for Life

The couple plans to join a pack of pups and their human friends this weekend to help fight cancer in a different way. The second annual Bark for Life fundraiser in St. John’s for the Canadian Cancer Society will take place in Bowring Park Saturday afternoon from 12-3.

Corner Brook and Grand Falls-Windsor have already held their Bark for Life events this year.

Organizer Heidi Smith said Ken Reid, a popular local dog trainer, will lead a walk in the park. The afternoon will also include some pawsome events including a hot dog barbecue and a Smooch the Pooch booth.

“We've got a kissing booth that will be by donation to get a kiss or a high five from a friendly dog that knows how to give kisses and high fives. And we've got a cosutme contest that's happening, and we have a peanut butter-eating race for dogs, so that's going to be pretty cute I think,” she said.

Conception Bay South business Boou Dog Treats has donated “wag bags” for the participants, she said.

Smith will be there with her 2 1/2-year-old standard poodle, Beau. She said there’s a lot of interest, in the event and while only a few have signed up so far, they’re expecting a lot of people to sign up on the day of the event.

There’s a $10 registration fee per dog, and she’s hoping participants will do a little fundraising, too. Last year’s St. John’s event raised about $2,500 for the Canadian Cancer Society, and this year’s goal is to match it or beat it.

For more information, visit the Facebook event at www.facebook.com/events/462876427403728/.

 

lpower@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyLouis

 

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