Despite concerns it might be too much for her, we took Lilly with us to the awards event at Humane Society of Boulder Valley Thursday night. At times, she threw oh-hell-no looks me. Other times, she smiled and even wagged. A few strategies helped Lilly cope in the crowd.
It helped a LOT that the only other dog who came was small and very quiet.
A Sprint and Less-Than-Auspicious Start
I won’t mar an otherwise lovely day with all the details, but suffice it to say that an eldercare glitch ate a 4-1/2-hour hole in my day … an hour more than expected. So, I had to race back up the mountain, wolf down a little dinner that (thankfully) I’d thrown in the crockpot that morning, and then drive like the wind to Boulder (about 50-60 minutes in rush-hour traffic).
I did my best to shake off the stress and frustration so that Lilly wouldn’t be upset too. It was kind of funny, though, because it’s so often just us girls in the car that having Tom with us changed things. He had not the best day in his life either and kept slipping cuss words into our conversations.
Lilly, in case you didn’t know, is the cussing police around here. It’s truly the tone of voice, but the tension behind the words upset her, so we kept busting up laughing every time he slipped up and said a bad word.
Because I cut short everything I’d planned to do at home, we arrived only 20 minutes late for the party (even though I’d started out a good hour behind schedule by mid-afternoon).
They had set up the buffet tables and bar on the main level of the humane society. The place was crowded and noisy, and Lilly went flat, which is her refusal posture. I immediately switched into Relaxation Protocol mode, feeding her treat after treat for merely choosing to SIT. Then, we made our escape up the back stairs to the seminar room where the awards would be held so that she could settle down.
Having the big room all to herself suited Lilly just fine, but after a few minutes, I wanted to see … just see … if she could greet her fans downstairs.
We made it about 1/2 through the crowd so that Lilly could see Hilary Lane from Fang Shui Canines and Deborah Flick from Boulder Dog. That lasted just a few minutes, with Lilly pretty much plastered to the wall behind Tom’s legs, so we once again made a dash for upstairs.
I wish I’d taken a picture, but Lilly sat in the back row, just smiling away. It was super sweet.
Tom stayed with Lilly, while I ran back downstairs to make my Hellos and get a little food and drink to bring back.
The Awards Ceremony
As people made their way upstairs, I pretty much fed Lilly non-stop. She poked a few people. A few guests petted her. Lilly even shook hands (both SHAKE and OTHER HAND) with the humane society’s executive director.
We deliberately sat in the very back row so that Lilly had few people behind her (those choosing to stand) and most of the noise in front of her. That extra space and noise distribution helped a lot.
BUT, I still covered her ears and fed her cheese non-stop whenever the group clapped because it was freaking her out. (My poor sound-sensitive girl.)
Lilly did OK either sitting in her own chair or on the floor (until a little boy in front of us dropped his book, and it slapped the ground right next to her).
Our Big Moment
My longtime friend and colleague Connie Howard introduced us and the community engagement award, which was a real treat. Connie is the VP of operations at the shelter and said all kinds of nice things about us.
Lilly was sitting nicely in her chair between me and Tom, so I brought her with me to accept the award, which included singing “Happy Birthday” to me and a special cake with candles.
Lilly was quite brave and walked right up the center aisle, with everyone looking at her and clapping. I praised the pants off of her the whole way.
I’m pretty sure Lilly has NEVER been in a room of that many people singing, so I asked her to BEG (balance her front feet on my legs) and fed her treats the whole time … before I blew out the candles.
The humane society’s photographer, I believe, got some good shots of Lilly, so if/when I get copies I’ll share them.
I honestly didn’t expect them to expect me to say anything. With nothing prepared, I winged it. Tom says I did fine. I have my doubts.
Because we were in such a rush, I didn’t have time to show Tom how to shoot video with my camera, so we have no footage. I’m sorry.
Essentially, I explained who Lilly was and that we adopted her from the humane society in 2004 (thanks to Hilary as our adoption counselor). I gave a little synopsis of Never Shock a Puppy and its support of the No-Choke Challenge (including giving a shout out to Hilary and Deborah as part of our Never Shock a Puppy Coalition) and then I got a little misty and don’t really remember what I said … other than Lilly had pretty much taught me everything I know.
As you can see in this photo (where Lilly’s eyes glow), she was indeed SMILING as I spoke. Good sign, yes?
And, those are not bangs on my forehead. I didn’t realize the projector put letters across my head.
I realized only later that I never said the name of our blog. D’oh.
Lilly, then, made a b-line back down the aisle and jumped into Tom’s lap for a nervous kissing fit.
Lilly Settles In
Then, Lilly settled in … She did not seem as worried about the clapping as time went on.
After the awards ceremony, we took these photos and met many people. Sometimes, Lilly tucked tail firmly to her tummy. Sometimes, she relaxed enough to let it wag a little bit.
A couple people got cake frosting on her head, but Lilly didn’t care … especially as she realized there were cake crumbs on the floor.
Lilly entertained a few people by jumping her jitters out … leaping as high as my head several times in a row.
I’m sure this wasn’t her favorite experience of all time, but Lilly handled the noise, the crowd, and the pressure pretty well … with no lingering effects.
Just before we left, I realized that Lilly was laying on the floor next to me with her head flat. This can be a shut-down position for her, but I think what happened is that she offered SIT, then DOWN, then DOWN (with chin) … her various default behaviors … while we were saying our goodbyes.
The Most Common Questions
Tom and I fielded all the usual questions about Lilly, including her breed, relative size … and the fact that from a certain angle she looks like a black-and-white fox.
If you want to read our answers to these common questions, check out Lilly’s official blog bio.
Our Official Style
And, yes, I did wear pink so that we matched. I’ve had that jacket forever, though. I did not go buy something new.