Hubby is no novice to the dainty sensitivities of my more than generous nose. Hey, if you have a big schnoz, then you have more olfactory senses, right? His concern was valid. So, in writing to say that I was interested in being a part of the team, I had to ask a rather trivial question (I mean, come on, if this was where God wanted me, my answer was going to be "Actually, it stinks. I can't." That's worse than Moses and he threw out some good ones!). I couldn't find the emoticon for "embarrassed", but I would've included it when I wrote the question if I could have: What does the costume smell like?
Turns out, as I expected, they do keep them pretty clean so it wasn't a problem. Ask me again in the summer - my answer may have changed.
I arrived at 9:00 to get dressed. It was about 40 degrees outside so I had worn a long-sleeved t-shirt instead of the suggested short-sleeve variety and capri-length workout pants instead of shorts. Before I was even out of the changing room, I was sweating. By the time I made it downstairs (also an adventure), I was welcoming the cool air.
So, back to the earlier reference on my schnoz. Turns out Godfrey (that's his name) has an even larger one. And absolutely no peripheral vision. And feet bigger than mine. And only three slots for fingers and one for a thumb. And a tail. Otherwise known as a recipe for disaster combined with my historically low showing in the "graceful" category.
Someone helped me down the stairs and let me loose. I waddled to a wide-open spot and started waving. I realized it was a bit hesitant at first, but I was fairly certain if I tried moving I was going to wallop a small child or trip and bust open the costume thereby committing the unpardonable act of revealing Godfrey's identity. When neither happened, I started to get into it a little more. Some double-waving and hi-fives. Look out world!
I was feeling good until a couple small children with unbridled enthusiasm ran up for a hug and slammed smack into his nose. Didn't hurt me one bit, but I made a horrified mental note that I needed to figure out a way to give hugs without looking like it was a head-butt. In the high-five department, I left at least two obedient and respectful children hanging out to dry. Their little paws were quietly held up, standing on my right or left, completely in my blind spot until a parent said "Give Godfrey a high-five" (blessings on parents who understand how this works), and I clued in to look around for an ankle-biter with a hand up. Success! High-five administered. I threw in some double thumbs-up for a good one. Looking good. Gotta watch for those high-fives though. I could've very easily smacked a kid in the face with my snout or my uncontrolled paw.
Truly, the volunteers before me had done a smashing job with this dog - kids loved him! I even had to watch out for some adults! It was a great job - 20 minutes of getting hugs, high-fives, and fist-bumps. Awesome.
But, don't be misled. This is not easy. First, second, and third, there's the heat. I will be wearing the t-shirt/shorts uniform next time even if it's snowing. I got swarmed by a gaggle of little girls on one trip through the main children's section and had to book it (without tramping on loose children - harder than it sounds) to the cool air. Then there's the costume. I'm not agile to begin with so adding length to my feet and blinding me with the expectation that I look confident is like trying to get the state of NC to use their turn signals appropriately: not gonna happen. Add to that the occasional mischievous child (Can I pull the tail? Who's in there? Are you my mother?). Add to that trying to communicate without talking or laughing (I may have inadvertently giggled once or twice). Not easy.
Definitely awesome though. And for now, apparently, this is God's idea of my ministry. I guess when you throw out a "I'm willing to help God, but you know I can't cook and don't do kids," He lands you in a dog costume. Very funny. And way cool.