Paws pile into the park

TUPELO – What do you get when you fill a park with a Great Dane, a few Shih Tzus, a British bulldog and several other canine breeds?
You get the Comfort Creatures of North Mississippi’s third annual Paws in the Park fundraiser.
Several people and their pets came to Ballard Park on Saturday for the day of music, games and pet-filled fun. Nikki Hester strutted around with her Great Dane named Cody. Taylor Johnson, 8, and her dog, Tica, also pranced around the park.
The event raises money for the organization which provides animal-assisted activities and therapy at nursing homes, hospitals, schools, mental health centers and more.
Lou Ann White is a member of Comfort Creatures and has seen firsthand what a little puppy love can do for someone who’s ill.
“Dogs have been known to have a keen sense as to what people are feeling,” said White. “Dogs give people an added boost of happiness in their lives and when a person is sick or down a dog can really pick up their spirits. That’s why Comfort Creatures is so important.”
Mary Ann Simpson is not a member of Comfort Creatures, but after she and her dog, Buster, joined in on the day’s fun, she said she was going to sign up.
“Buster makes me happy on my worst days, so I can see how a dog can turn a person’s bad spirits back around,” she said. “So if he can bring me this much joy, I’m not going to be selfish and keep it to myself. We’re going to share it with others who need it.”
Dogs chosen for Comfort Creatures have to meet a certain criteria, according to White. Dogs have to have a basic level of training, be reliable, predictable and controllable even in crowded or noisy places.
The $1,200 raised at Saturday’s successful Paws in the Park will go toward getting pets certified and trained.
“You couldn’t ask for better weather,” said Carson Reed, who brought his dog, Boomer, out to mingle with the other pooches. “It’s sunny but cool so the dogs aren’t tired or thirsty. All the dogs have been well-behaved, too.”

Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal