I knew we ‘d arrived at our destination based on the bumper stickers in the parking lot: My Cat is My Best Friend, Who Rescued Who?, Don’t Buy and Don’t Breed – Adopt a Homeless Pet in Need!
My husband, friend, and I were attending a fundraiser for an animal rights organization. We liked animals, cared about their welfare, and (to be honest) the event was being held in a boutiquey hotel we were curious to visit.
As soon as we entered the lobby, I felt simultaneously overdressed and underdressed. There was a woman wearing a glittery evening gown with pendant diamond earnings swinging from her lobes – her hair was swept into a French twist. Next to her stood a woman in a cable knit sweater, jeans, and Birkenstock sandals.
My husband, friend and I moseyed around the ballroom, surveying the items on display for silent auction while munching on organic crackers and cruelty-free cheese. It was clear meat of any form was not going to be consumed at this gathering.
“Hey look!” I said, nudging my friend so that her wine sloshed in her glass, “You should bid on the massage.”
“Um … that isn’t a massage for a person. It’s a massage for your dog.”
We sat at our designated table and proceeded to introduce ourselves to the others already seated.
“I’m Dina,” a woman with red hair said, “I’m a cat whisperer. And I’m gluten free.”
“How interesting!” my husband – always the socially gracious one – said. Dina beamed.
A dinner of vegan lasagna was served. (After demanding proof that her lasagna was not only vegan but also gluten free – Dina accepted her plate.) Board members from the organization began their presentation. The organization was desperate for money, and there were simply too many abused and homeless animals for them to help.
Whether it was the slideshow of the abused animals or the cardboard-like consistency of the vegan lasagna – I was having difficulty swallowing. When a disturbing picture of a malnourished Doberman was flashed on the screen, the speaker paused and began to cry. Several people jumped out of their seats and surrounded her.
“Vera has a very special connection to Dobermans,” one man said, leaning into the microphone so that his voice was muffled.
Vera was led off the stage. Another board member took over for Vera (who was weeping in the corner of the room). As more unsettling images were flashed on the screen, a man sitting at the table behind us shot out of his chair.
“And what about the chickens? And cows?” he yelled, “When you-all buy milk? And eggs? Do you ever give thought to how those animals are treated?”
There was the briefest moment of silence before a round of applause erupted. Apparently, public disturbances are accepted in animal rights organization fundraisers.
The auction began. The first item, a beautifully framed watercolor painting signed by the artist, received no bids and was eventually tossed to the side.
“Next, you have the opportunity for your cat to be on the cover of our organization’s national brochure. Do we have any bidders?”
“Three hundred dollars!”
“Four hundred dollars!”
“FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS!”
“ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS!”
There was screaming, shouting and tears. Two people began to argue. At last, a man won the bid for $2,500. He collapsed into his chair, exhausted but smugly triumphant.
After peace was restored, the auctioneer continued.
“How about a weekend away in the mountains? A delightful little cabin. Starting bid at $25.”
Silence. The auctioneer peered around the room before shrugging and picking up the next item, which resembled a miniature lounge chair.
“We have,” the auctioneer boomed into the microphone, “What appears to be a settee for your beloved pet.”
Around us people sprang out of their chairs, hollering and waving their arms over their heads in a frantic attempt to win.
When at last the auction ended, one of the board of directors took the podium as dessert (sandy tasting vegan cupcakes with vegetable shortening icing) was served.
“And now, the moment we have all been waiting for,” he said, “Our special guest: Tiki, the rehabilitated dog! Tiki lived in a shelter where he was rehabilitated and eventually adopted.”
We turned to see a black, Standard Poodle enter the room. Several people slid off their chairs and crawled toward Tiki, reaching out to touch his curly coat. It reminded me of the scene in the Bible where the Lepers reach out to Jesus Christ for healing. People were whistling, coaxing Tiki to come their way. Tiki seemed more interested in sniffing the dinner tables, but then gave a disgusted snort of disappointment. Apparently, Tiki didn’t care for vegan food either.
“Give Tiki some room!” the president said, “We don’t want to frighten him!”
As if admonished, the people crept back to their chairs – except for one woman who curled into the fetal position at Tiki’s feet. She held her palm up to Tiki in offering. Tiki gave her a bored glance before moving on to the next table.
“Can we go now?” I whispered.
Before the words were out of my mouth, my husband and friend grabbed their jackets and we rushed out of the room. The cold night air felt refreshing and familiar.
“Ya know,” I said as we climbed into my husband’s car, “I’m still really hungry.”
“How about some steak?” my friend suggested.
And we pulled onto the street in search of some cow.
So, did anyone hack up a fur ball?
Dina, the cat whisperer, may have … from working with all of those cats. 😉
Helping animals in need is one thing. Idolatry is another. Ellie
I really enjoy your stories. Always look forward to them. Thanks for the entertainment!
Thanks so much! Your words mean a lot. 🙂
I’ve been invited to a couple of these events, but I haven’t made it yet. Thank you for clarifying that my future support will be via online donations – only.
Great post, made me laugh (and groan). Hope the steak was good.
Yes – STAY HOME! The event was like an episode out of the Twilight Zone: surreal, creepy, yet entertaining. Thank you so much for reading!
I actually attended one of these once but thankfully the food wasn’t vegan and the auction was silent. 🙂 I’m all for helping the starving and/or homeless animals but the fanaticism that some people have about this and other issues makes me a bit crazy myself. Thanks for the snort and chuckle.
Exactly – we were very unprepared for the whole experience. It was fascinating and creepy all at once.
I’ve often wondered if PETA would be protest if I stood outside their headquarters eating animal crackers.
I wouldn’t recommend it. 😉
I’m literally laughing out loud (I might be sharing this with my co-worker, as he is curious what has me in a fit of muted giggles). I love animals!!! But, I don’t know what to think about your outing…. How entertaining! I might try to attend one just for the experience! *lol* I have to be honest, though… I am THAT weirdo who sings songs to her cats and carries on whole conversations with them… Maybe I’d fit right in!
It IS quite an experience! And there is nothing weird about talking to or singing to your cats. It would be weirder not to – to have a silent relationship. You’d just be a weirdo if you spent $2,500 on having your cats pictures on the front of a brochure!
I was laughing so loud! Superb story, I wanna see a picture of the woman crawling underneath the bored standard poodle…which, by the way, is one of my favorite english words :). Happy that I found your blog! Greetings from Norway, Ulrike
I am happy I have you as a reader. Thank you so much!
Greetings from USA!
This is nothing short of hilarious hahaha! I want to meet this Dina Gluten Free Cat Whisper. I imagine her saying it as if she was a super hero. I would call her bluff, I think she’s selling wolf tickets.
I’m not sure what she was most proud of – being a cat whisperer (what IS that, by the way??) or being Gluten Free….
Lol, I’m sure she holds them both equally high.. it’s the double threat factor hehe.. Cat Whisper I think is someone who can communicate with cats and understand what they want and or train them? I’m guessing because of that show the dog Whisper that use to come on (still may, who knows.) the guy would go to people’s homes with unruly I guess some would say dogs and train them and tell the parents what they are doing wrong. Best episode: when the guy thought it was ok pet the dog and the dog nipped em’ good.