Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pride 2010

Today's theme?  Life's celebrations.

My rescue poodle, Lula Mae finally got her heart's desire. The turned out showgurl from Las Vegas, Nevada, made the big time Reno evening news as a proud Gay Pride supporter. Here's how it played out:

I was inspired to have both my human grandchildren, and my four legged doggie children  march in our local Pride parade. I have NEVER marched in a parade in my 50 plus years on this planet. Somehow, this was important to me.

Lula Mae was my muse.

I started on this journey by getting both poodles groomed last weekend.  My groomer, Kristie, told me last year she would be happy to help me do something with Lula's hair for the event. I was hoping she would be as excited this year. The whole shop went into a buzz when I told them what I wanted.

"Let's get the poods in for a grooming. BTW, I want Lula to have RENO on her side. We are going to be in the Reno Pride Parade."

After a bit of dialogue, it was settled. Positive and negative space defined, the head groomer would leave the current hair growth on Lula for the letters of RENO on her right side, while taking down the rest of her fur very short. It took a bit of time for the groomer to decide how best to execute her design, but at the end of the day Lula came home with the letters beautifully matching the Reno arch lettering from the famous downtown sign.


I looked at the haircut all week, but it was only today I started to experiment with the colors. I did some test runs with application of the colored hair spray last night. Lula's tail was cotton candy pink. After a bit of mental tweeking, I decided on the proper way to apply the color to the letters on her side.

Yes, it IS spray paint, not a permanent dye. After being a hairdresser for many, many years, I asked myself this question, What's the difference in performing crazy hair on a dog????

NOTHING....but there were a few emails from concerned friends cautioning me about the hazards of dying doggie hair.

Not to worry my PETA friends. Lula Mae was never subjected to more than five minutes of 'dye' time consisting of noisy bursts from a can of spray paint. I made a template of about a one inch rectangular cut out. I overlaid the template on the RENO letters, which were taped with a low tack blue paint tape. There were three applications in all. The first was purple, second a light green, and thirdly, a pink. Lula Mae received her favorite 'Charlie Bear' liver treats as a reward after each phase. Even the painting of her red toenails never took more than a few moments of time. Lou, despite all reports to the contrary by former owners, was a very willing and cooperative participant.

Apparently, Tito found her irresistible as well. Between spray painting, and toe nail painting episodes, Lula and Tito would run around the backyard like they were participants in the Kentucky Derby.

Never let anyone tell you poodles are 'prissy' dogs. They are consummate athletes. Lula Mae and Tito are both poetry in motion when they are romping though the obstacles in our backyard. Lula Mae is often acting in a temptress mode as she carries some much desired object of Tito's in her mouth, attempting to keep it away from him. Tito will, without any doubt at some time during the running escapade, grab the object of desire and make off with it while outrunning Lula Mae with his easy, long legged elegance. Tito is several inches taller than Lula, but Lu can pour it on with her meaty, muscular frame which gives Tito a run for his stilt like legs.

This morning after the color had dried, and Lula was brushed suitably, it was time to load up.

Bark, bark, bark,rampant running, woofing, and general chaos ensued as I raised the garage door. Before I could get out the slowly rising door, all three dogs were out like a shot. I feebly started shouting from the depths of the garage,  Get into the car!!!! I wondered what in the heck was going on out there.

Generally, there is absolutely no one around outside of my home. Today, as luck would have it, was an exception.

Turns out, my neighbor's eldest son is getting married. She has out of town guests, including an ex brother-in-law whom I am immediately introduced to because he is the one who captured the Yorkie. The Mominator, as she is affectionately known in the household, was trying to eat the neighbor's 60 pound shaved-like-a-lion dog who was minding his own business hanging out with the guys in the driveway. Good thing he is a mellow boy, or The Mominator would have been a nice treat for him, all seven pounds of her. Niceties were exchanged, frothing at the mouth Yorkie returned, and I finally got all three of my four legged babies into the SUV.

With Lula Mae riding shotgun, Tito riding comfortably in the far back, and The Mominator perched atop the grandkids booster seat so she can see out the window, my four legged crew and I head off for the Reno Gay Pride 2010 parade.

Reno may be a moderately sized city, but a very small town when it comes to it's splinter activities. Take for instance Gay Pride. Remember Reno is part of the wild, wild west. We may have gambling, prostitution, and wide open spaces, but celebrating diversity? Only the strong, bold, and defiant participate.

I can't quite figure out which of the three adjectives I am, but most people would probably but their money on defiant.

I get to my destination with a few moments to spare, so I left the dogs in the car which I parked under a lovely shade tree, only a few feet away from the check in station.

Before I continue with the actual Pride day festivities, I would like to tell you about Lula, and hang on, her story is a complicated one.

Our home is her third. I cannot fathom how she could have been thrown out of two households because I know her to be such an awesome, faithful buddy. After a turbulent first year and one half of her life, Lula Mae has found her forever home.

But, let me back up a little bit.

Phyllie, my partner, lost her faithful dog, Buddy, to cancer. She was so sad and lonely, we had to get another dog. After some negotiations, we finally decided on poodles. I am allergic to dogs, and that was the only way I could have another dog in the household again. It took us about a month to find our beautiful four month old black standard poodle boy, Tito. He was such a lovely, bouncing, boy puppy.  But I, Crazy Grandma, feared he was doomed to be lonely. So, with bleeding heart in hand, I started looking for him a mate.

It only took two weeks before Phyllie, always my accomplice in crime, announced "There is an ad in today's paper. 'Standard poodle needs a home. Ten month old female.'" I was ON it. I somehow knew the dog in the ad was THE dog to complete our family structure.

I immediately called the number listed in the paper. The woman who answered my call said the advertised dog, then named Missy Mae, was currently in Reno on an overnight stay. The current owner presumed the dog would be adopted by the person who was currently auditioning her.

I asked a few questions as to the temperament of the dog, and the ONLY thing that stuck out was, "She has a problem with men."

"Then a lesbian home is the perfect home for her, isn't it?" came my quick reply.

Undaunted, I KNEW the dog was slated to be OUR dog, I left a number for this second owner to call me if things did not go as expected on the overnight visit.

A half an hour later, I received a phone call from the white poodle's current owner."The lady did not want to pay for this dog. She will be meeting me at a parking lot in Reno. If you meet us there, you can see her.  I will be in Reno for the day doing errands, and you can take her home to meet your other dog," owner number two sounded very brisk and businesslike.

"I must be able to see if she can get along with our boy." I believed Tito deserved to choose his own lady friend.

After some discussion about the dog all was agreed. I would meet the second owner in the parking lot of a popular shopping mall.

I arrived a few minutes early. I was worried that I would not recognize the vehicles in question. The whole meeting was a bit slip-shod. The setup was something like a cloak and dagger mystery.

I needn't have worried. Mistress Lula Mae showed up with her head poking out of the sunroof of an aging Mercedez. My pretty white gurly had a huge smile on her face as she scoured her moving environment. I paid no attention to the woman driving the car. If she wasn't willing to fork over a few dollars for such a magnificent creature, she most certainly did not deserve to be her master.

The first time I laid eyes on the Mistress Lula, I fell in love. She had an essence. She was smiling with her tongue lolling several inches to one side. Eyes twinkling. Her white fur obeying the laws of physics as the car sped into the parking lot. Immediately, I knew Lula was eager for new experiences. My heart melted.

The pseudo new owner, the lady driving that Mercedes, pulled up two spaces from me in the parking lot. I observed the dog as she surveyed her new surroundings. Lula stood on the arm rest of the driver's side of the vehicle. Her head poked out the sunroof of the car. It was as if she were periscoping her future from the depths of the Mercedes.

I wanted to bolt from my car, instantly claiming Lula Mae for my own. But I knew the lady driving the Mercedes did not know about the secret arrangement made earlier that morning between the second owner and myself.

I waited for the dog's current owner to appear. It did not take more than five minutes, but it felt like an eternity. I ached to get out of my car, and simply go over the the Mercedes, open the door, and invite the magnificent white, four legged lady to step into her future. Coming from a Mercedes Benz to a lowly Hyundai Santa Fe seemed a step down. But, if a Mercedes owner wasn't willing to compensate the current owner of the dog, WTF? Something was definitely amiss there.

I did not have to tolerate my agony for very long. The second owner of the magnificient white poodle appeared. It was clear to me the tail wagging doggy recognized the newly arrived vehicle. When the matronly woman got out of her large SUV, and  immediately headed to the parked Mercedes in the next stall, Lula got very excited. The woman quickly liberated the poodle who, in turn, immediately started circling the large, child filled SUV. The children rolled down their electric windows and addressed the frantically circling poodle.

"Hey Missy, How are you?" the children called from each window to the energetically circling poodle.

The second owner did not look at Lula. She immediately walked over to my car and said, "Please take her. I don't want to see her, nor do I want the dog to see my children. This is hard enough. Please just take her. I will call you later today to see if she gets along with your other dog, Okay?"

Absolutely fine with me. I took Lula's leash and introduced myself to her saying, "I am your new owner. Let's go home, beautiful girl." I grabbed her head, speaking directly to her beautiful, soft brown eyes.

Lula looked a bit sheepish, but she obeyed. She jumped into the back of my SUV with an elegant grace. Off we went. My first stop was to visit my partner at her work.

Neither Phyllie nor I were poodle girls, that is until I developed allergies to dogs. Turns out poodles do not make me sneeze or break out in hives when they lick me. I had a hard time getting Phyllie to accept this breed of dog as a companion, but once we found Tito, we were sold on the breed.

I still had to talk Phyllie into ANOTHER poodle.

Lula Mae and I snuck into the tennis club. Lula walked so beautifully on her leash. She knew exactly how to stride WITH me. I am not a strong girl, and I have NEVER had a dog as big as Lula Mae. I was a bit intimidated, but determined to get a playmate for our sweet, sweet boy.

When I brought her home, Tito literally jumped straight up in the air and started acting like a goofy teenaged boy around Lula. She wasn't too fond of Tito at first. He was several inches shorter than her, but she tolerated him well enough. I knew HE liked Lula, but would Phyllie?

Turns out when Phyllie saw Tito do a back flip, and then start running circles around Lula begging her to play with him, Phyllie just had to say yes.

That was a year and one half ago. Now Tito is several inches taller than Lula Mae. They are fast buddies. Lula has had her ups and downs, mostly involving the eating of socks, but she most definitely has found her forever home.

Back to our Pride Day story:

Today, we walked in the first ever 'Green' Reno Pride Parade. They said it would be a
'Green' parade, meaning no motorized vehicles. There were bicycles, wagons and even a horse, but nothing sputtering fumes.

The grandkids and I wore tie dyed shirts, Lu strutted her rainbow Reno, Tito wore his tie dyed handkerchief around his neck, and Brenden walked little bitty Mominator.

Everyone did just fine. Although there was some concern on my part. Ever try to wrangle two huge, excited poodles, a couple of grandkids, and a full of herself old lady Yorkie?

Well, I did.

Phyllie arrived just in time to get some pics of us as we navigated the parade route.

Lula had lots of pictures taken of her, the grandkids kinda enjoyed walking the parade route, and The Mominator behaved herself.

Later that evening, as we sat watching the nightly news, there she was. Mistress Lula Mae looked directly into the camera, smiled her best smile, and wiggled on by looking for all the world like the happiest poodle in history.

You made it Lu.

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