Dogs marry at Rose Tree Park

What began as a joke turned into a canine wedding that raised, as of the wedding morning, more than $5,000 for PAWS for People.

Kathryn Meloni places the ring on Frangelica’s collar.

The “wedding” was between Frangelica Meloni, the four-legged daughter of Chadds Ford’s Kathryn Meloni, and Shaggydog Stark, the four-legged son of Ashley Kennedy, of Delaware.

Earlier this year, Kennedy received her doctorate in entomology and got married herself but, she said, “This is a bigger deal than my wedding.”

She explained that she and Shaggydog met Meloni and Frangelica as volunteers for PAWS, which stands for Pet-Assisted Visitation Volunteer Services, and the two dogs seemed to get along.

“Kathryn came up to me and said, ‘I think Frangelica has a crush on your dog.’”

The wedding idea came out of that simple jest.

Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge Nathaniel Nichols performed  the ceremony, noting that the therapy teams met at the courthouse in Media where they volunteer. Team Meloni became part of a pilot program in 2016 aimed at calming children and families who have to go to family court.

Nichols also noted that the day, Aug. 10, was his own wedding anniversary and he took a moment to re-propose to his wife of more than 40 years.

You may now kiss the bride.

While sunshine kissed a fun-loving crowd at Rose Tree Park in Media, the day was for PAWS for People. Even before the silent auction and the raffle, donations and vendor fees — more than 50 vendors had signed up — raised $5,500 for the organization.

Clarice Ritchie, the community director for PAWS said the fundraising wedding will help the organization train and place more therapy teams in the field to bring “tail-wagging happiness” to those who need it. Currently, PAWS has more than 550 teams in more than 180 locations. Those locations include courthouses, hospitals, libraries and other facilities where the calming influence of a trained therapy dog can help relieve human stress.

With the wedding on his own wedding anniversary, Judge Nichols takes time to re-propose to his wife.

Ritchie said it costs $350 to train and place a team, but most of the training is for the human volunteer.

“We train people to be ambassadors for their pets. Most dogs already know what to do,” she said.

She added that all the dogs have already gotten obedience training beforehand so they already know the basic commands.

According to its website, Paws for People “is a nonprofit organization committed to providing therapeutic visits to any person in the community who would benefit from interaction with a well-trained, loving pet. What makes PAWS for People stand above other pet therapy services is the emphasis we place on providing individualized therapeutic experiences for every person we visit. Our strict standards in training and testing dogs and cats make sure every therapy team is capable of meeting the various needs of our diverse clientele.

“PAWS is most active throughout Delaware, but also serves areas in southern Pennsylvania, northeast Maryland, and southern New Jersey.

A dog-friendly wedding cake, courtesy of GiggyBites of Chadds Ford. A cake for people was donated by Maria’s Bakery of Ridley.

“PAWS visits people of all ages, ethnicities and income levels.”

For more information on PAWS for People, visit www.pawsforpeople.org.

 

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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