Last weekend, I faced a dilemma. I was scheduled to be in two places at one time. Location #1 was the Northwest Christian Writer’s Association’s Conference in Redmond, WA where I planned to shop my next book idea. Location #2 was the 2012 PAWS Community Hero Pet Awards ceremony on Bainbridge Island where my cat, Cheeto, was to be honored for his work as a “target cat”. Cheeto has a “job” and is used to train cat detection dogs to find lost cats. Recently featured on three different TV shows, Cheeto won this award because he helped to train a search dog named Harley who found and saved the life a lost cat named Norm.
At first, I planned to send a volunteer in my place to accept Cheeto’s award. But as the day grew closer, I felt an ache in my heart. I wanted to be there, too. When I voiced my dilemma on Facebook and asked for advice, one friend piped up and said, “Writer’s Conferences come and go-when have you ever heard of a cat winning an award?”
So I compromised. I attended the writer’s conference in the morning and in the afternoon, I left Redmond, drove to Seattle, picked up a friend (who had Cheeto), and boarded the ferry heading to Bainbridge Island.
At that point, I realized we were in trouble. So I began to act like one of those sideline parent-turned-football coach, determined that my kid would win! I figured I’d probably bagged the votes of all of the cat lovers, so I devised a plan to capture as many dog lover votes as possible. I took Cheeto to the entrance of the event to greet all arriving guests. I handed out Cheeto’s trading card to anyone who stopped to pet him. I even pulled out freeze dried salmon treats and tried to get him to sit up and wave (like he did in this video here). I figured if dog people could see that a cat had a brain and could even be trained to do a trick, maybe they’d cross over to the dark side and vote for one. But Cheeto refused to wave. He just laid there like a fat cat, allowing votes to slip away. Ultimately, the time for the awards ceremony arrived and I was asked to bring Cheeto inside. I snapped a shot while he lay on the red carpet.
When they called Cheeto’s name, I picked him up and he relaxed in my arms like a sack of potatoes. When he becomes limp like this, his back legs splay apart, his head hangs back, and he looks hysterical–similar to how he looks in this photo here:
I hammed it up on the red carpet by twirling (like a model) in a circle as I held limp-Cheeto. The audience laughed and I even stopped for a few people to take his photo. *** UPDATED FOOTAGE!! *** Click here to see YouTube footage of Cheeto’s presentation! Before the presentation the event planner had asked all nominees, “If your pet were to come back as a famous person, who would he be?” and I answered “Because he is big and keeps me laughing all of the time, Cheeto would be Jackie Gleason.” At the podium, Cheeto received his plaque and an Olympic-style medal attached to a red, white, and blue ribbon that they draped around his neck (actually, its a cheap engraved pet tag, not a medal, but please don’t tell Cheeto). Afterwards, we waited another five minutes and they announced the overall winner of the People’s Choice Award. It wasn’t Cheeto. And it wasn’t even Tucker-the-poop-sniffer. No, it was a therapy dog named “Kitty Kitty,” given this name because she was born on April Fool’s Day.
We packed up and made the ferry just on time. Once on board, I had the brilliant idea to ask the ferry supervisor if I could brag about my cat who’d just won a Pet Hero Award. After showing him the award and letting him meet Cheeto, I was shocked that he actually handed me the microphone and said I could make the announcement myself. Seeing a YouTube moment, I asked my friend (she’d prefer to remain nameless, and you’ll see why when you watch the video) to videotape our next fun way to market Cheeto’s achievement. So I handed my cell phone to my friend to videotape me, grabbed that microphone, and told those passengers just how blessed they were to be traveling with a famous, award winning cat and how they could meet Cheeto (which some of them did). And here’s what my friend captured on film:
Nice. The only thing she captured was a 3 second clip of my back, my butt, and then her feet. And, yes, Cheeto didn’t get the People’s Choice Award. But at least I have a hero cat to sleep on my bed at night and a pretty new plaque for my wall. Life is too short to not brag about your famous cat!