By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
The 10th annual Community Pet Therapy Day is scheduled for July 12 at the Community Arts Center of Cambria County.
This year, the event will be held in honor of late pet therapy dog Josiah Fogle, who passed away on April 21. Josiah, a mixed breed rescue dog, visited many hospital patients throughout the area over the years with his owner, Christine Fogle of Johnstown. Fogle, owner of Golden Girls Pet Therapy, continues to provide pet therapy with her golden retriever, Gracie. The event will take place from 1 to 5 p.m.
“We are accepting donations in Josiah’s memory at the Golden Girls Pet Therapy Table and we are hoping to take orders for a T-shirt that will be made in his memory,” said Fogle, who also serves as organizer of Pet Therapy Day. “All proceeds will then be donated in his memory to God’s Animals, a group that saves those who can’t speak for themselves.”
Fogle said that Josiah was a special dog who touched many lives and brought smiles to many faces.
“I want people to know that he was an abused rescue dog that was timid and nervous when I got him,” Fogle said. “He went from that to winning a national award for pet therapy with a lot of love and attention. He was a favorite in many people’s eyes. He inspired people and taught people that anything is possible.
“He did change lives and even helped with the training of other therapy dogs. He was my heart dog and a momma’s boy. When he looked at you, you could see into his soul and there was never one time when he looked at me that I didn’t see pure love.”
This year’s Pet Therapy Day will commence with a prayer and Blessing of the Pets by Steven Hoover at 1:30 p.m. A pet parade will follow, and Sweet Frog mascot, Scoop, will make a special guest appearance.
Local band Painted by Millions are returning to provide live entertainment once again this year; they are scheduled to perform from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Entertainment will also be provided by Johnstown resident Eric Shawley and his border collie, Beagan, who has mastered a number of impressive dog tricks.
Children’s activities begin at 1 p.m. and include a children’s reading program, “Tales with Tails,” which will give them a chance to read to pet therapy dogs; pony rides with Best of Friends Pony Rides and an opportunity to make crafts with members of the local non profit Project Street Kids.
Throughout the duration of Pet Therapy Day, attendees can purchase chances to win gift baskets; drawings for the baskets and 50/50 will begin promptly at 4 p.m. In addition, more than 30 vendors will be on the grounds offering an array of gift items for pets and their owners.
“There is something for everyone,” Fogle said. “It really involves the community; even those who don’t have a pet enjoy themselves and feel welcome. It really feels likes it is about family.”
Pet Therapy Day is open to the public free of charge, and dogs are more than welcome to accompany their owners. Over the past nine years, Fogle has watched Pet Therapy Day grow from a small event to a large, well-received community fundraiser.
“The first year I had it, we had about 60 people attend with maybe 30 dogs,” Fogle said. “Last year we had about 300 people with well over 125 dogs.”
Proceeds from Pet Therapy Day benefit local animal groups. Attendees are invited to bring pet food donations that will be donated to the local pet food pantry.
“We need your support so we can make a difference in the lives of these precious animals,” Fogle said. “I would like to set the bar high again this year and raise at least $4,000. We can only do that with the help of our wonderful community.”
Fogle said that Pet Therapy Day serves another important purpose: educating the public about the benefits of pet therapy and the role that family pets play in our lives.
“It also is a family friendly day for people of any age,” Fogle said. “You have a chance to enjoy the day with your own pets. You will not be disappointed. Bring your family and friends, bring your lawn chairs and spend the day with us.”