Poodles to flock to Natchitoches in October for charity event

Barbara Gibson and Orion went sight-seeing in Natchitoches via horse carriage in March.

By Hannah Richardson, photos by Kacy Marie Photography

The downtime in summer makes for the perfect time to organize some new and exciting events for the later half of the year! What began as a simple correspondence between two Louisiana ladies has turned into the planning of a new-to-Natchitoches charitable event, Poodles on the Brick, set for this October.

Event organizers Lisa Greer, with Hank, and Barbara Gibson, with Orion, met up in Natchitoches in March for a promotional photoshoot for Poodles on the Brick.

Lisa Greer, owner of local Dirty Dawg’s Grooming and Puptique, and Barbara Gibson of Slidell share an interest in, you guessed it – poodles! They met through an online forum about poodles, discussing topics from health care to dog shows. “Yes, we met in a Poodle Facebook Group – Standard Poodle Living. I posted a picture of my poodle Orion wearing a purple boa at a Mardi Gras Event. Lisa liked the photo and we began talking about how the South needed a central place for poodle fanciers to meet, much like the annual Poodle Day in Carmel, Calif.,” said Gibson.

With their giving hearts, they began to make plans for the new charitable event. Greer offered Natchitoches to be the location for the event that would make a great spotlight for the city. Gibson agreed- Natchitoches was a perfect location due to its central location in the south and all it offers. Greer came up with the name “Poodles on the Brick,” as a nod to Front Streets red brick street and thought the Natchitoches Events Center would be a great location for the gala. Her husband thought of the name “A Day on the Cane” for the gala, which features Louisiana food, music, vendors, a red carpet to showcase the poodles, and it will all be emceed by Miss Louisiana Pecan Festival Queen Jordan Fuqua.

“We want to make sure the people see the all-around versatility of the poodle and how much bringing them in for our community is going to be great for all ages to enjoy,” said Gibson.

Greer and her husband, Kevin Fontenot, are also the founders of Wheels on Water (WOW). WOW is a free program that helps mobility-impaired outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the outside world again. The WOW boat makes it possible for the handicapped to fish and sightsee from the water, and Greer’s poodle Hank is usually close by. Hank, a therapy dog, also helps children overcoming their reading anxiety. He listens patiently as kids practice their reading skills with him. “He doesn’t judge,” said Greer. “He is just happy to be there with them, wagging his tail.”

Gibson is the founder of Constellation of Care, where she and her poodle Orion, a therapy dog, provide care for the residents of Hospice House in Slidell. She is a retired nurse with 40 years experience including ICU, Hospice and Home Health. “I did pet therapy with my toy poodle for three years before Orion came into my life. Lucy was never certified with a pet therapy organization so as soon as I got Orion we began training,” said Gibson. After completing the AKC Therapy Dog Program, the two started visiting Hospice House a year ago, making weekly visits to earn his Advance Title. “Every week we find ways to bring comfort and joy to the patients, families and staff. Orion senses their pain, cancers, and needs,” said Gibson. “His song is ‘Be Still’ by Hillsong. He lays beside them in the bed when invited and each experience is different depending on the patient and family members but when we leave, we know we have touched their souls.”

With his poodle Harley, on a Harley, is Kenneth Holt.

In October, you can expect to see many poodles and their owners flock to Natchitoches. Proceeds from the two-day event will benefit two organizations – The Creole Poodle Rescue of New Orleans and St. Mary’s Residential Training School of Alexandria. Gibson is a member of the Creole Poodle Rescue and Greer’s granddaughter attends the St. Mary’s Residential Training School.

For more information, contact Greer at (318) 521-2284 or Gibson at (504) 858-3404, or email poodlesonthebrick@gmail.com or visit the Poodles on the Brick Facebook page. According to Greer, this is just the first of many upcoming events to be organized by the two! Future events will include dock diving and a pet show.

A gala, “A Day on the Cane,” will be the main event Saturday, Oct. 19 from 6:30-10 p.m. at the Natchitoches Events Center, including a taste of Louisiana food, cash bar and music by the local LaCour Trio. There will also be a silent auction and a red carpet runway showcasing all visiting poodles, with a professional photographer. Tickets are $30 per person or $200 for a table of eight.

Proceeds of the gala will go to St. Mary’s Residential Training School, a non-profit organization who’s mission is “to provide every person the opportunity to develop to his or her full potential, by promoting personal growth and independence and help each child and young adult realize greater possibilities and attain higher levels of performance.”

Instead of the parade, it has been changed to “Meet the Poodles” at the Farmers Market from 9 a.m. – noon at the Farmers Market.

Proceeds from the parade will go to the Creole Poodle Rescue, a non-profit organization that rescues poodles and poodle mixes from kill shelters and try to match the home with the personality of the dogs. When registering for events, select “sending to a friend” and do not check “paying for goods or a service” or event organizers have to pay a fee, which will decrease the proceeds.

To register, visit PayPal.me/poodlesonthebrick. “Add a note” in the PayPal comments box with the following information: Name, address, email and phone number; number of “A Day on the Cane” tickets; guests names; and poodle’s name if walking on the runway (email poodle’s story to poodlesonthebrick@gmail.com). There will also be a chance for 10 of the first 100 ticket holders to receive a jeweled collar.