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'Pawsing' for a good cause

It seems almost everyone, at some point in their lives, has owned a dog. Dogs provide companionship to their owners and show undying love to a compassionate owner no matter what. They don't care whether you are popular or not, big enough or good enough for anything. They love you for who you are and assure you that will have a friend through thick and thin.

Kids and teenagers often find themselves wanting a dog but cannot find reasons to convince their parents. This year's Paws in the Park at Beaver Island State Park on Grand Island on Saturday served to show kids and parents why they should own a dog.

Paws in the Park is an event run by the SPCA to raise money for the organization. Dog owners from all over Western New York flocked to the park to contribute and take their dog on a pleasant walk. But that wasn't all, there were bounce houses for kids and booths full of dog treats and accessories. Thousands of dogs, from Dalmatians to poodles, crowded the parking lot. Even Walker, the cocker spaniel who was brutally dragged behind a car last month and rescued by the SPCA, attended.

There were a significant number of teens and younger kids with their parents who came to show why their dogs are special and to have fun while contributing to an organization that helps people find the dog of their dreams.

Dave Mongan, 13, and Chris Koman, 13, both of Grand Island, decided to bring their Hungarian vizsla to Paws in the Park.

Their dog not only serves as a loyal companion but also aids them in a popular pastime.

"We usually use him for hunting," said Chris, "but today he's here for the walking."

Hungarian vizslas resemble Labrador retrievers but they are skinnier with a bright orange coat.

Often parents who have children who desire a dog are worried about the hassle of feeding, bathing and cleaning up after a dog. But with a little training and routine managing, a dog doesn't have to be a burden.

Megan Monaco, 12, said her dog, a golden retriever named Finigan, is such a loyal pet that he sleeps with her every night.

Another concern for potential dog owners can be what type of dog to pick. Pedigrees can be beautiful but expensive. So if you desire a dog with the same happy-go-lucky attitude without the price, the SPCA has hundreds of dogs preapproved for adoption in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

Although they are mostly mongrels, the dogs up for adoption at the SPCA are sweet and often easy to handle.

The SPCA knew a lot of the dogs attending Paws in the Park would be energetic, so it was prepared, with a large obstacle course for dog owners to lead their dogs through. This helped the dogs have fun and bond with their owners away from all the distracting sights and smells of the other dogs.

The volunteers that helped run the show even set out buckets of water for the dogs to drink out of and pools for them to cool off in.

There are many dogs that still need homes who take refuge at the SPCA.

Alex Howard is a sophomore at Grand Island High School.

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