We worked this event two weeks ago, staffing our table from 3:00 until the Mall closed at 6:00. Our presence, entertaining and soothing the children in the Santa line, was very popular that first day. For our second day, we worked all day ... splitting the day among our volunteers into 2 hour shifts so we didn't tire the dogs out too much.
My dog Daniel and I, along with our poster-boy TJ and my friend Kim, worked the final shift of the day, from 4:00 till 6:00. Daniel and TJ worked for the entire two hours, getting pets and hugs from most of the children waiting in the very LONG line to see Santa.
When we bring TJ to an event, he is the perfect ambassa-dog for Canine Cancer research and support, and he loves the attention. Most people don't notice at first that he only has three legs. When they do notice, we explain that TJ has bone cancer, and he had to have his leg amputated. (He has had five of his six chemotherapy treatments so far, and he is handling it beautifully!)
The Mall also invited the Virginia Kincheloe Spay/Neuter Clinic, who brought dogs from the Spotsylvania County Animal Shelter, hoping to find homes for them. The Husband came along with me, and he baby-sat a Pomeranian from the shelter. 'Rocky' was nervous at first and he was lolling on his back by the end of the day ... a couple we met fell in love with 'Rocky', and he may have already found his forever home.
When we are working events where there are children, it is easy to see which families have dogs who are members of their families. These children light up when they see our dogs, and they know exactly how to pet them gently. We also meet families who don't have dogs, and the children are often apprehensive. Sometimes, we are even asked if our dogs bite. (Of course they don't!)
Daniel met this cute little guy toward the end of our shift. The little boy sat right down beside Daniel, petting him gently on the head and smiling like crazy. This is an action shot, taken as I told him to say, "Cheese" and he crawled toward me.
Our mission involves a sad subject ... cancer ... and we listen to a lot of folks relay stories of their dogs who fought cancer or died from other causes. Cancer is the most common cause of death for our beloved canine companions, so these people are in good company. We also hear uplifting stories of dogs who are fighting cancer (like TJ) and are doing well.
At the end of the day, we hope our dogs (and their friendly humans) helped make the wait to see Santa (which exceeded an hour during the busiest times of the day) a little bit easier for the families with their excited children.
Daniel and TJ were very tired from all of the attention ... both of them slept in the car on the way home.