From the desk of Breeze, PADS Assistance Dog:
It was an early start for us November 25, 2007. That Sunday morning dawned clear and cold, perfect weather for Rogers’ Santa Clause Parade through Downtown Vancouver.
I knew something was up when Tammy (my handler) dressed me in a goofy red and green cape festooned with jingle bells, over my usual PADS working vest. My nerves jangled with every jingling step we took to the Sky Train Station. The trains were crammed to overflowing with humans of every description, which made it much more difficult to keep my mind on my work.
So many men! So many children! So many people noticing how adorable I was in my Christmas finery! It was hard to focus, but I did my best. I was, after all, not only representing PADS in the parade, but also setting an example for all the PADS freshman puppies who were also in attendance…
It was a c-c-c-cold morning! I could tell Tammy was c-c-c-cold, too, because she was grumpy, and wouldn’t let me warm her up with a ‘my lap’ hug. We had to wait for a long time outdoors, along with many other parade entries – you can’t just start a mile-long march all at once, especially when some entries have four feet, some two, some are cars, some trucks, and others wheelchairs!
The Parade was kick started from a Stanley Park tour trolley by Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan. By the time our little entourage finally got going, the air was full of frenzied excitement – I could smell it everywhere, along with horse and dog poop, of course.
We followed bagpipes, high-school bands, some great big horses, lots of acrobats and floats, and some very serious police dogs. This was a Christmas Parade – and in the spirit of giving, spectators donated $7,500.00 cash at special stations set up along the route, and 6,800 kilograms of food was collected. We marched past three hundred thousand people who were clearly excited and happy to see us – but I could sense they were anticipating something even bigger.
As we turned the final corner, I looked behind me and saw him, the Great Man Himself, in all his fat red and white glory – Santa Clause. And I was glad I’d been a good dog all year!