Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tale from the Hanger: The Hot Pink Down Vest

I'd like to tell you the tale of the hot pink down vest. It pulls at my heartstrings. It really does. I'm having a glass of pink wine right now (it's actually a merlot/cabernet sauvignon blend..quite tasty) and the color reminded me of the vest, which reminded me of this Tale from the Hanger).

So I have a hot pink, puffy down vest from the Gap with a faux fur lined hood. I love this vest. It's SO warm, and it just makes me happy. Unfortunately, the pink vest couldn't assuage my sorrow on this fateful day.

A small group of my closest friends in college would get together on Sundays and go volunteer at Happy Tales Humane. If you live near here, please go volunteer, or make a donation. Please help support no kill shelters! the soapbox now.

I love animals. No, you don't understand. I really, really love animals. I visit the zoo frequently, I secretly think I'm part Snow White part Animal Whisperer; I have evidence to prove that animals love me too, it's a gift (Instead of being good at math, I'm good with animals; a trade-off I can definitely live with). So you can imagine my excitement when we would go volunteer.

No matter how hungover we were, we would pile on the winter clothing and go help these poor animals get adopted on "adoption Sundays". What we would do is, pick a puppy we wanted to "show", walk it, love it, and kind of show them off to the people who came in looking to adopt.

We had the option of "fostering" a puppy should he/she not be adopted, and my close friend "S" loved doing this. Remind me to tell you the story about Wobbles the blind pug later, trust me it's hysterical.

So this one particular Sunday, I remember exactly what I wore. I was slightly worse for the wear (thanks to a particularly eventful Saturday night). I had on black yoga pants, a thick sweatshirt, my hot pink down vest, and my sorority baseball hat with pigtails. I felt miserable (looked a little homeless too)...but puppies were waiting and I assumed my responsibility like a champ.

When we locked eyes, it was over. Wendell was a heart breaker, truly. A 3 week old fur ball, still not even allowed to roam outside because he hadn't been fully vaccinated. Wendell was a shepherd mix, mostly white, with some patches of brown and black. He looked a little like this:

ok now imagine that, but 100 TIMES MORE that even possible??

Wendell and I immediately bonded (see the bit about me being really good with animals). He took a nap on my shoulder as soon as I picked him up. We were very much in love. I wanted to "foster" (in this case foster=steal) him and live a long happy life together. Little did I know...

Wendell was very taken with my down vest. He must've loved its warmth, softness, and safety. I put him inside the vest, zipped it up, and let his precious little face peek out. It was priceless. I think I took 45 pictures of us together on my phone (I don't have those pics phone :( ) Time passed....people kept walking by, asking about him. Keep in mind, as volunteers we're technically supposed to be "selling" the dog to the potential owners, helping with the adoption process...

Potential Owner (PO)

PO: " old is he?"
Me: "Oh, he's just three how BIG those paws are..he's going to be like REALLY majorly large...."
PO: "Ohhh, we're looking for an indoor dog, thanks though!"
Me: "Oh, it's ok, thanks for looking though!" (Secretly fist pumping in the air...whew, we escaped that one!)

PO: "What kind of dog is that?"
Me: "Ohh, he's kind of a mutt, he probably is part Chow, so you might need to be careful because Chows are known to be aggressive"
PO: ", so he's going to be big...yeah, thanks though!"
Me: "No problem!" (Another secret fist pump)

Then it happened.

I knew it was coming as soon as I saw them coming towards me. Wendell even submerged himself deeper into the warmth of the pink vest, he didn't want to be separated either. It was a family. A really freaking cute family. A mom, her husband, and their adorable son, who clearly had just gotten done with a soccer match, he was still in cleats. Of course, he RUNS up, and says, "'MOM! MOM! I WANT THAT ONE!" I knew I shouldn't have worn the damn hot pink vest. It was attracting potential owners....I should've worn camo...beige...taupe...WHY HOT PINK!?!?!?

Adorable mom asks if she can pick him up and right as I start to protest, she just reached into my vest and scoops him out. I can see the anguish in his face, he was napping so serenely! I fought back the urge to tackle adorable mom, but just kind of grimaced instead...trying to think of SOMETHING to say, "he has fleas" "he might be rabid" "he's not good with children, especially adorable little boys"...nothing...I was speechless.

Right then, I knew I was losing Wendell, one of the loves of my life. They signed the adoption papers, and no joke, they were walking off into the afternoon, the adorable family, now complete with their adorable puppy. I started to choke up....tear up...ok so maybe I was crying a little bit.

Later that night at dinner with friends, my friend "Ross" kept asking, "Julie what's wrong?"
I couldn't bring myself to respond...all I could do is breathily whisper..."It's just Wendell...I really miss him..." I had a certain boyfriend at the time, so "Ross" was pretty confused....
"I thought you were dating "Edward"?"
"Yeah I's just...Wendell..."

Finally I had to clarify that I wasn't cheating on "Edward", that Wendell was a dog, and I loved him. (Actually more than I ever loved "Edward" for that matter). I kept thinking what I could have done to keep my precious cotton ball puppy...and I knew...That hot pink vest was too good to be true, it drew attention, and I should've kept Wendell in the corner, covered in an ugly blanket or something. Now, I can only hope that the adorable family is happy with their adorable dog....

I know the pink vest remembers those fleeting hours being snuggled by puppy perfection...

Word to the wise: Don't get attached to animals while volunteering, it's heart-wrenching and could lead to rumors of infidelity. Be warned. It happens, and if you tend to get attached...DON'T WEAR BRIGHT COLORS!!!!

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