Denver - March 17, 2014
Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!
Or if you don’t speak Irish, Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you - I hope you have a grand day!
We celebrated, sort of, on Friday, but I have to tell you, the experience was really peculiar.
We drove downtown with my Aunties Diane and Elizabeth. I thought we were going to a regular restaurant for dinner. HA!
We walked up to the entrance to a tent (Are we going camping? I wondered) where a security guard looked at me and said flatly, “No dogs.” Marianne started to explain that I am a service dog trainee, but just then another security guard rushed up and told the first guy, “It’s OK. He’s a service dog. Service dogs are allowed.”
“Thank you,” said Marianne and John. The first security guard still looked dubious, but I understood. Fake service dogs are making things difficult for people with real service dogs, so I do my best to be a well-behaved ambassador for CCI. I wagged my tail at him and he relaxed and waved us in.
WELL. The tent was huge and there was LOUD, pounding music, flashing green and white lights and many, many people. It was all I could do to walk close to Marianne and not get stepped on! A herd of little kids ran past me giggling, and they were all BALD. As I looked around I noticed there were a lot of bald people, men, women and kids. Weird, right?
It was too loud to talk, so I poked Marianne’s leg with my nose and looked at her with raised eyebrows. What’s going on?
Marianne pointed to the stage at the front of the tent. People were sitting in chairs and other people were standing behind them. As I watched, I realized the sitting people were getting their heads shaved! REALLY WEIRD. Never, in all the times we’ve gone out for dinner, has there been head shaving. I began to feel a little nervous.
Marianne poked John and pointed to an opening in the tent that led outside. Once outside I sighed in relief.
“WOW, that is loud!” Marianne exclaimed. She shook her head. “I’m sorry Jeb, it must be even harder on your ears.”
Just then my Auntie Amber wandered up. “Hi, Jeb!” she said, patting my head. “Thanks for coming to support Gary.”
I frowned. “What’s happened to Gary?” I worried. “Is he OK?” Gary is another of my friends.
Amber laughed. “He’s fine. He’s getting his head shaved.”
Now I was really concerned. Had all of my friends joined some kind of strange cult? Were Marianne and John going to get their heads shaved too? And, more importantly, was I?
I saw Gary walking towards us. He still had all his hair. Maybe I can talk him out of this nonsense, I thought.
Gary knelt down and rubbed my ears. “Hey, Jeb! Good to see you.”
“Never mind that,” I said urgently. “Why are you shaving your head? You have nice hair, and you’ll be cold without it.”
Gary smiled. “It’s for charity, Jeb. I ask people for donations for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which raises money to research childhood cancer. In exchange I get my head shaved.”
I shook my head. “OK, that’s a wonderful cause, but I still don’t understand why you’d shave your head. That’s goofy.”
“Let’s get Jeb’s picture with Gary now,” Marianne interrupted. To my great horror, she whipped out a ridiculous hat and put it on me. I immediately tried to shake it off.
No, Jeb, please leave it on,” Amber wheedled. I glowered and gritted my teeth as she and Diane took lots of photos. “Aw, the doggie looks so cute!” exclaimed a passing bald woman. Who, me? I stopped squirming and smiled for the cameras.
“6:30 shavees to the stage!” boomed an announcer. The crowd erupted into applause and cat calls.
"That’s me! See you in a little while!” Gary waved and walked toward a group of men and they climbed up on stage.
“Those are Gary’s teammates,” Amber explained. “C’mon, let’s go watch.” The others followed her but John said, “Jeb and I will stay out here where it’s a little quieter.”
I wagged my tail gratefully. “So why are they getting their heads shaved?” I asked John. “I still don’t understand.”
“Many people with cancer lose their hair because of the chemotherapy. So this is a way for people to show solidarity, plus it’s silly and fun. I think Gary said this is his 7th year,” John explained.
The crowd whooped raucously as the shavers buzzed. A multi-tattooed fellow on the end of the row had a hair cutter quickly braiding his long hair into many pigtails. He had a huge smile on his face. SNIP SNIP SNIP went the cutter’s scissors and the braids fell to the floor. The hair cutter picked them up and handed them back to the guy who carefully tucked them into a bag.
“What’s the deal with the him?” I asked John. “Is he keeping his hair to glue it back on?” I watched as the cutter deftly ran clippers and then a shaver over his scalp. “That’s gonna look really strange.”
John laughed. “No, he’s probably donating the hair to an organization that makes wigs for people who lose their hair because of cancer and other diseases.”
A fellow in the middle of the stage was wearing a sparkly, flashing purple tiara and holding a sign that said “Ask me why I’m bald!” while an official-looking photographer snapped pictures. The crowd cheered but I hoped Gary wouldn’t have to wear a tiara.
Just then Gary and his teammates walked back outside, bald as could be, high-fiving each other and grinning. “New photo!” said Amber. Gary obligingly hunkered down next to me. I gave him a little kiss. “You look good without hair,” I admitted. Marianne held out the hideous hat and I flinched, but to my surprise, Gary put it on his head! I gave him another smooch, relieved I was not getting shaved.
We waved goodbye to Amber and Gary and left for a quiet restaurant – thank Dog. When we got home I looked up St. Baldrick’s Foundation (http://www.stbaldricks.org) so I could make a donation to the Gorgeous Georges, Gary’s team. So far they’ve raised $5,760! Here’s a link (http://www.stbaldricks.org/participants/mypage/669551/2014) in case you want to make a donation, too. Or perhaps you’d like to be a shavee? It's not too late. If so, send me a before and after photo!
Looking for a book to read or give as a gift? Check out "Let the Dogs Speak! Puppies in Training Tell the Story of Canine Companions for Independence" in print or eBook format at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and otehr fine booksellers. Marianne donates her royalties to CCI!