Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fair fare

For those of you outside Minnesota, let me tell you: This is huge. Last year, nearly 1.7 million people attended the State Fair, in a state with a population of 5 million.

Being from L.A. originally, I can't say that tusked boy cows do much for me, but we're always on the lookout for new experiences for Dempsey. So when Helping Paws asked for volunteers to do a demonstration at the Fair, we signed Dempsey up.

Doreen and I had been to the fair a couple of years ago, and what we remembered most vividly, beyond the butter bust and the deep-fried Twinkie on a stick, was the traffic. Good Lord, the traffic.

Since I wanted to get to the big show on time, I left an hour early. But, as usual, I outsmarted myself, and arrived... an hour early. We were parked near where skateboarders and BMX bikers were doing stunts to Five Finger Death Punch. Hmm, not exactly soothing warm up music. With plenty of time to spare, we decided to relax with a little Patsy Cline in the air conditioned car.

We left twenty minutes to walk about 500 feet; it wasn't enough. We had just entered the fair when we saw a woman in a wheelchair waving at us. She wanted to meet Dempsey, who obliged, even doing an impromptu demonstration of his retrieving skills. Turns out everyone wanted to meet Dempsey.

Dempsey was looking up at me almost constantly for direction. Here was my little puppy, looking up to me (literally) for direction and reassurance. Not once did he jump up or back away -- such a brave little puppy! He even ignored all the people who -- despite Dempsey's bright blue pack, stating very clearly "Please don't pet" -- kept petting him as we walked, without asking.

Aargh. I was feeling very protective of Dempsey, and all the groping and unsolicited advances felt like... harassment. Well intentioned, but still. We'd heard this from graduates, but never experienced this ourselves. It was definitely an eye opener.

We finally made it to the demo area at 5:59. Just in the nick of time. Dempsey was so busy demonstrating his skills, he didn't have time to enjoy his tasty treat created in honor of the "Great Minnesota Get-Together," Peanut Butter Kong on a Stick. We let him share it with his sister Izzo when he got home. He's such a good brother!

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