Thursday, May 10, 2007

Gone to the Dogs

We’ve just come from our first “Yappy Hour,” a gala event at the Omni Shoreham hosted by Cassidy, the hotel’s newest dog-in-training. Jake accompanied us and made us proud that he could behave in public.

The Yappy Hour was a fund-raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind, an organization that breeds and trains dogs to be working dogs who help people with disabilities. I learned about it from my Hebrew teacher Miriam, who (along with her husband) is raising Olaf, a year-old black lab.

It was a perfect Spring night to be in the garden area of the hotel. They had gone to great lengths to make it a fun experience for the dogs. There were silver water bowls, endless treats, and centerpieces of tennis balls for fetching.

The real surprise was the baby lamb chops, sushi, shrimp cocktail, grilled vegetables, mini-crabcakes, and an open bar for the dog owners. At the cost of $30 per dog, it was a cheap dinner for us!

You would think there would be dog skirmishes breaking out all over. But after the initial butt-sniffing, most dogs were cordial. The guests included many dogs in training. But in addition there was a bulldog, a miniature pinscher, an Australian cattle dog, a Bernese mountain dog, and any number of other breeds represented.

My teacher Miriam and her husband Sean showed up toward the end with Olaf, who was strong enough to drag Miriam across the patio. He is still a little too exuberant to tell whether he will make the grade to be a guide dog. Some dogs end up as sires or dames. Some find their place in hospitals like the VA Hospital. We heard of one dog that had worked miracles with an autistic child.

I had always thought that raising a dog for 18 months and then turning it over to someone else, even if it was for a good cause, would break my heart. There was a man there tonight who was currently fostering his 16th dog and had stories to tell about every one he had raised.

With my love of animals, I might consider taking on a dog in my retirement. I can’t think of a better way to make a positive commitment to society.

But for tonight, it was just an odd mixture of dog biscuits and Chardonnay at one of DC’s finest hotels.

Check out a slideshow of the event on David's Blog.


Blogger Kristin said...

I don't have a dog, but the yappy hour sounds great. It's definitely an organization that I could get behind.

10:02 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

I have a blind friend who is working with her third guide dog. Without one she would live a sharply curtaied life but as it stands she can, in her 80s, still travel by bus to her apartment in NYC from her country house in CT, navigate the bus station, find her way to all her various doctor and other appointments, go to the store, take walks, and never be alone in her house. I've had the pleasure of knowing all three dogs. One even "worked" with me when I was on crutches, rising and walking beside me whenever I tried to naviigate the doorways of Gloria's house.

6:40 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

I have the sense that I was given an insight into this organization at this particular time in my life for a reason. I'm thinking seriously about taking on a dog when 13-year-old Dylan is no longer with us. If the Omni Shoreham Hotel can raise guide dogs, I should be able to do it!

7:48 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

What a great picture you've painted of the yappy hour. Very cool!

8:29 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I can esily see you doing this. Would it make a difference if you also had a dog of your own?

2:09 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Reya -- I hope to add some real pics from the yappy hour when the photographer (D) sends them to me.

MOI -- I think it would be fine to have a dog of your own. It would be a companion for the puppy. And hopefully a GOOD influence!

3:47 PM  
Blogger steve said...

"YAPPY HOUR"- Thats great!
Do they serve Chateneuf-du-pup?
Is "Spud" gonna be there?
The next mornin' will they be needin' some of the "hair of the dog", make that Cat!!!
"I woke up feelin' pretty "Ruff" and cou;d use a little hair of the Cat"

4:32 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- With that sense of humor, maybe we will have to import you to cater the next yappy hour. You would have all those dogs doing tricks! Check out the pics I added.

6:55 PM  
Blogger media concepts said...

That looks like great fun and a great cause. I try to get a pet therapy fix every few days.

1:57 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Matt -- Does this mean you go hang out with someone else's dog? You have a dog, don't you?

6:20 AM  

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