Dogs romp and roll for good causes

Charity socials allow dogs and owners to connect

Hazel and Scott Wayte’s doodle, Chester, hangs out in Victoria Park.
Hazel and Scott Wayte’s doodle, Chester, hangs out in Victoria Park.   Katie Short

Halifax is seeing a trend in compassionate dog owners mobilizing for good causes. Two Facebook groups devoted to dog lovers have been raising funds and awareness for issues that affect them.

Scott and Hazel Wayte, who founded the Nova Scotia Doodle Lovers Facebook group, are putting on doodle romps, social gatherings with other dog owners and doodles.

With almost 500 members, the group covers all of Nova Scotia, and includes people from Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.

The romps happen every couple of months, with big ones twice a year. The events average 25-30 people who each bring their dog.

Two weeks ago, a romp at Jollytails Doggy Daycare raised almost $200. Twenty doodles got a chance to wrestle and play with their fluffy friends, while the owners socialize and look on.

Depending on attendance and donations, the Waytes have been able to donate between $100 and $300 every time they organize a romp.

Typically, they donate all the money fundraised to a dog rescue or charity, but not at this most recent event. All donations went to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, because September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month.

Hazel volunteers with the society, and has a personal connection. Her niece has leukemia and another dog owner in the group had lymphoma.

“It’s kind of nice to see something that we created actually helping,” Scott says.

Outside of the romps being good exercise for the dogs and great for fundraising, the Facebook group is a social support network for the doodle owners. One of the dogs in the group is sick right now, and the owners are going online for friendship and comfort.

“It’s quite the support group right now, everyone’s sharing what she’s going through, and offering support,” Hazel says.

A different group is also using Facebook to bring the dog lovers’ community together.

Danielle Yorke, Krista Sutherland, Kate Havard and Candice Scott founded the Halifax Bully Breeds Facebook page in 2013. The group organized a march on Oct. 1 to protest the breed-specific legislation passed in Montreal that banned pit bull-type dogs.

Danielle Yorke’s pit bull, Zeus, poses on the Dartmouth waterfront
Danielle Yorke’s pit bull, Zeus, poses on the Dartmouth waterfront   Katie Short

With about 200 people at the march, and over 4,000 people on Facebook, that supportive community is important to Yorke.

“It’s nice to know that there are so many other people that are like-minded, and feel the way you do, so it does give me a great sense of acceptance and welcoming. I feel like I’m a part of something.”

Many group members have been affected by the breed-specific legislation. There are people on the page from across Canada and the United States.

The event was a huge success. About 150 dogs attended, and their owners happily basked in their slobbery kisses. One video of the march has over 200,000 views on Facebook, where it all started.

“It was just pure love. We have gotten posts from people all over the world saying ‘Thank you Halifax, thank you for doing this.’ It’s really cool,” Yorke says.

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