This weekend I was lucky enough to be included as a participant in a fundraiser for cancer.
I am the proud owner of a dog named Ellie who served as the official “Team Colin” mascot in the GCU Run for Cancer this past Saturday. The 5/10K run was hosted by Grand Canyon University with proceeds going to a local non profit organization Children’s Cancer Network.
As of Friday night, there were more than 800 registered participants registered to attend.
The morning of the event, Ellie the mascot donned a custom made “Team Colin” t-shirt and was an excited passenger on the early morning car ride from Gilbert to the phoenix GCU campus. Wearing her gentle leader collar, we set out to find our fellow Team Colin members where the mischief began.
Ellie is a Doberman/Rottweiler mix who lives in Gilbert, Arizona with kids and cats. She is fairly well socialized and is tenacious in her belief that everyone should love her, and demands affection accordingly.
She also happens to be “crotch height” for most people, which is not usually an issue for her as her usual attention grab involves introducing herself to people and promptly flopping to the ground, rolling over for a belly rub.
If any of you are not familar with the “Gentle Leader” collar, it is a strap that goes across the nose and behind the ears. Some dogs adapt to the leader without any issues, while others become almost cat-like trying to rub up against anything nearby in attempt to dislodge the nose strap. Ellie the mascot just happens to be in that latter group.
Being crotch height, and looking for objects to assist her in hopes of dislodging her collar created quite the menace. Anyone within leash radius was subject to being used in an attempt for freedom. To people who did not know what her motives were, she appeared to be an agressive “crotch sniffer”.
With hundreds of crotches surrounding her at all times combined with a manical desire to be free from the nose halter, hundreds of people were subject to the alaming sensation of a somewhat pointy Doberman nose on a persistant mission for freedom.
“Gracious, I’m so sorry”
“Mercy! I’m so sorry”
“Oop! Up close and personal there…sorry about that!”
“My apologies…really I’m so sorry”
“Oh! Jeez – Forgive us!”
These were phrases exclaimed repeatedly throughout the morning.
Once the walk started I figured Ellie would settle down with the attempts to get out of her collar, and I was right. She became obsessed with some Chihuahua dogs who were a short distance ahead of us. The Chihuahua dogs were the ultimate cause of an event that involved tripping, skinned knees, and the desire to strangle the Team Colin mascot.
Having served her purpose in proudly displaying her “Team Colin” shirt and matching beaded necklace, I made an executive decsion as the official mascot handler, to drop out of the 5K walk and go find a patch of quiet to hydrate and have a bit of a “time out”.
We made our way through the campus and found a few tables near the gathering area, yet far enough away to eliminate distractions. At this point I connected her leash to her “regular” collar thinking we would be okay for a little while. After about five minutes, along came the “Little Survivors” parade.
Marching along, lead by GCU cheerleaders with sparkly pom-poms, toddled the most adorable little ones, some riding in wagons, some bald, some looking healthy and strong – all looking delighted to be there hopping and skipping along enjoying the morning.
Ellie, who is amazing with little ones, sat and watched seemingly content to merely observe…until…the Phoenix Suns gorilla mascot came into view. He came running around a corner, so I didn’t have an advanced warning. I was holding Ellie by the collar when she saw the gorilla.
We went from a complete standstill to full speed racing mode…in the opposite direction…through a grassy area. I had been sitting when Ellie decided to make “the great gorilla get away”, which is how I wound up looking at the sky, being pulled by a dog through a grassy area that was pleasantly moist.
I was able to regain control over Ellie the mascot after the parade passed just in time to be summoned to the finish line because Team Colin had arrived with Channel 12 camera man, Daniel Clark in tow.
After doing our best to appear presentable, we rejoined Team Colin as they celebrated the completion of their 5K walk, the first of many planned events to honor the memory of Colin Urias.
Ellie became intimately familiar with Daniel Clark, as well as making friends with children holding various kinds of cookies and crackers offered to participants who finished the race.
While Team Colin enjoyed the morning, with many Facebook friends meeting face to face for the first time, there was a bittersweet moment when Pati Urias, mother of Colin Urias, told myself and others that they were there for Colin to honor him, and to fulfill a promise she made to her son that she would do good things in his name.
Her journey has just begun…and yet she is well on her way. On behalf of all Team Colin members, I can comfortably say that we are very proud of our fearless leader, Pati Urias, in spite of her questionable use of Ellie, the maniacal crotch sniffing mascot.
Ellie will remain on staff at “Team Colin” and will be delightfully inappropriate at the next event within the next few months.
For more information:
Facebook page for Children’s Cancer Network
Website: Children’s Cancer Network in Arizona
Financial data for Children’s Cancer Network
GCU event news
Tracy Lynn Cook is a writer in Gilbert, Arizona. She is active on Facebook, Twitter, or contact her via email at TracyLynnCook@gmail.com.