This past weekend we were honored to guests of our friends at the annual Fur Ball at the Drake Hotel benefitting PAWS, a no-kill shelter for dogs and cats in Chicago.
It’s one of the few black tie benefits where dogs are invited, and I recommend anyone who loves animals, to make the PAWS Fur Ball part of their charitable giving. Julie and I attended with our two pups, a 10-year-old Weimaraner named Gunther, and a 13-year-old Shitzu/Maltese (I say a Shit Tease!) named Brodie. If you go, here’s how to make the most of the night, and what to expect:
1. Exercise your hound: Although you don’t have to vouch for your dog not being crazy before attending, it’s an unwritten rule that aggressive or hyper dogs aren’t welcome. Since Gunther is pretty excitable, I made sure he had his 3-mile run that day and his pinch collar on throughout the night so he was always on his best behavior.
2. Dress to impress: This is a true “black tie” so most guys were in tuxes, women were in gowns and most dogs had a bit of flair too. Check out Rent The Runway if you want a great dress for a fraction of the price of buying one. They send you two sizes and the shipping both ways is easy. Our dogs both donned matching bow ties (of course). I recommend etsy for tons of colors, styles and sizes.
3. Visit the red carpet: We were really impressed how they pulled out all the stops to make pets (and their owners) feel fancy. After we visited the coat check, we were directed to the red carpet where they snapped your photo.
4. Set a budget: Tickets for the Fur Ball alone are around $1,000 per person and dogs are $300 each, so your ticket in the door might already be all you want to donate. But there is a great silent auction and adrenaline-filled live auction that can get the best of almost anyone. Remember, this event includes crème de le crème of Chicago, so you will be bidding against some high rollers. For example, the winning bid to have your dog featured on next year’s PAWS calendar was $35,000, so know what you are getting in to before you raise that paddle!
5. Bring poop bags: Seems like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how few people had a bag when one poor little guy had an accident (and multiple people almost stepped in it) before it was cleaned up.
6. Hit up the photo booth: Second only to the red carpet was the photo “couch”. Great black & white photos with classy props for you and your pooch. Crop out the logos and you’ve got a great holiday card.
7. Take advantage of the dog spa: At any time in the night, you can check your dog into the dog spa where they could use the bathroom (they brought in real turf!), get a spa appointment, or just relax away from the action. One volunteer was with each dog throughout the visit, and we opted to check in the pups during dinner so we could enjoy our crab claw and oyster appetizers without a 90-lb. Weimaraner looking for leftovers.
8. Thank the volunteers: The gala was packed with wonderful volunteers there to help you do anything. Need someone to hold your dog at coat check, they’re on it. Don’t have an extra hand to get a glass of wine, they’ll go get it. Without the PAWS volunteers this event truly couldn’t be what it is, so don’t forget to thank them every chance you get.
9. Stay for the after party: The dinner and live auction end around 10p, but there is a great live band and the free drinks continue in the small parlor room off the lobby. The crowd is fun, they have a room of late night grub like sliders and fries and, of course, the dogs are still welcome.
10. Designate a driver/how ’bout Uber Pet?: Since we had to get downtown with two dogs, we opted to valet which meant one of us had to make sure not to overindulge on the free drinks. Which makes me think, why doesn’t Uber offer Uber Pet where you can get a safe ride with your pooch and avoid the conundrum all together?