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1 December 2002 Issue

The El Paso Thanksgiving Parade
By Greg Lawson - ParkStRanger@aol.com 

My vegetarian society had our Thanksgiving dinner three weeks ago, so I faced spending Thanksgiving alone, watching the Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon and trying not to think about the poor roasted birds on all the tables throughout our land.

So I was happy when a vegan friend of mine asked me to join her group on a float in the Thanksgiving parade. A coalition of several El Paso animal rescue groups had joined forces for the Pet Express float, a train that consisted of a jeep converted to look like the train engine and two cars and a caboose. Twenty people and a dozen dogs rode in or walked beside the train. I was happy to see several members of my vegetarian society with our float.

On each car of the train we had banners with messages such as "Be a Responsible Pet Owner, Spay and Neuter Your Pets," "Fix the Problem, Fix Your Pet," "Adopt Your Next Best Friend From a Shelter."

Since the train had an old west look, we had decided to dress up in western gear. I did a reprise of my Clint Eastwood look from Halloween, with cowboy hat and pancho and three days worth of facial stubble. Even a vegan likes to play cowboy now and then.

A new friend of mine, a former El Paso County Commissioner who became a vegetarian and an animal rescuer several months ago, brought his four dogs, so I walked one of his spaniels for most of the five miles of the parade. I have been a cat person for thirty years, and so I haven't been fond of dogs since I had canine companions as a young boy. At first I was a little uncomfortable walking a dog on a leash, but it was a little like flying a kite, and I soon got the hang of it.

For a little while during the parade, I pushed a cute little dog in a baby carriage. Wrapped up in a blanket and very happy for the ride, he was a big hit with the many children who lined the street.

My vegan friend who had invited me to participate told me that the vegan news anchor man of channel 9 had prepared a strong message about spay and neuter to deliver when our float passed his camera setup. All the television stations were there and captured our message banners and our dogs for either live coverage or the evening news.

Today, Thanksgiving, could have been a bit depressing for me, but instead it was a day where we were able to make a small difference. If only a few people got our message, then it was worth the walk, very well worth the walk. And I learned to like dogs a little bit more than I did.

Go on to Dogs Deserve Better by Michelle Rivera & Tammy Grimes
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