Sunday, September 13, 2009

Grand Night Out

Last night was Helping Paws' Tail Waggin' Dinner, the biggest fundraiser of the year, held at the Marriott in one of the nicest suburbs of Minneapolis. Dempsey spent a couple of days getting ready, starting with easily digestible, chicken-and-rice meals to make sure he wouldn't get diarrhea. Saturday was a "day of beauty," with a bath, brush, pedicure/pedicure, ear cleaning, and tooth brushing. And finally, since this would be Dempsey's first gala, a fancy but tasteful bow tie:

The dinner was a lot of fun! Dempsey says thank you to the Helping Paws staff, donors, supporters, and volunteers who made it all possible. There were over 400 people attending, but despite all the hubbub, Dempsey (and every dog) was calm and well-behaved.

It helped that there was a special "puppy room" for the pups to hang out during the plated "Big Dog Dinner." Dempsey was very good during the "Puppy Chow Reception," not once trying to steal appetizers from the waiters, but we didn't quite trust him during the formal dinner. As good as he is, he's not a big dog yet!

For us, the best part of the evening was seeing Dempsey's extended family. He clearly recognizes his brothers and sisters, wagging his tail more vigorously with them than with the other Helping Paws dogs. And he also very clearly remembered Team Cheers, the family who raised him till he was 8 weeks old and came to live with us. Dempsey hadn't seen them in months -- most of his life, from his perspective -- but we thought his tail would fly off, he was wagging so hard. Being worriers, we used to worry that once he graduates, Dempsey will forget us, or be sad and miss us, but he showed us last night that he has enough love for everyone.

During the dinner, we were seated with a woman who had had a service dog, now retired. Although Jordan no longer lives with her, she clearly loves and misses him. We traded cute Dempsey and Jordan stories all through dinner. It was so nice! Our friends, we suspect, are getting tired of hearing about Dempsey all the time, and it was wonderful to have dinner with a fellow dog-lover who can really appreciate what a dog can do for you. I imagine it will still be hard to see Dempsey graduate, but it's so nice to know that when he graduates, Dempsey will live with someone who loves him (almost) as much as we do. He is such a lucky dog to have such a big family, from Team Cheers to us to whoever is lucky enough to get him.

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