God’s word states that if at all possible, to live at peace with everyone. I am grateful for some of the services and recreation that Fairfax County has for special needs kids. I wanted to celebrate that with my family today including the family dog, Mercy. I am a firm believer of ethics and morals. Obeying the rules is an important value to me. There are times though when we must overstep our boundaries in order to benefit or enrich the lives of others. We went to Celebrate Fairfax with Mercy, even announced on Mercy’s Facebook page that we were going there. Until we get to move to another area, we want to make the most of the area in which we do live.
People at the festival there were delighted to see Mercy. She was the highlight of many people’s day. We wanted to share of love of Jesus and be a blessing to the citizens of Fairfax’s diverse community. I had every reason to believe that it was a pet-friendly event. Mercy brought a lot of joy to people there. The map was a little confusing. We had not yet found the dog section. We were even meeting someone there who’s a fan of Mercy’s Facebook page who was also a volunteer at the festival. Even an offer from the Fairfax County Sherrif’s office pet Mercy. Our son also had a good time at the Petting Zoo, the train ride and the Moonbounce in the Children’s section.
Apparently, Celebrate Fairfax has a no dogs rule. I had not seen anything about it until we got there. I had the impression that they were very dog friendly, especially since they have dog attractions like the Fairfax County Dock Dogs and NOVA Dog Magazine. One of the other main reasons why I attended Celebrate Fairfax is because the citizens of Fairfax County tend to love dogs. I mean they have every dog business up the wazoo including the impressive VCA Fairfax veterinary center, where Mercy got a complimentary eye exam for being a therapy dog. And sure enough a lot of volunteers loved her. She made everybody’s day, except for a select few. We were in the children’s section watching my son enjoy the moonbounce when a member of the leadership team came in a golf cart like scooter and asked me if Mercy was one of the Dock Diving competitors and I said no. I hope for Mercy to become a part of more formal dog activities soon enough. I have been wanting to get Mercy into Dock Diving, but haven’t had the time. Mercy actually starts agility classes this Monday evening. I then told her I was meeting someone from Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA) and she said okay and drove away. We met Sandra who is involved with the organization through one of my doggy meet-up groups. She is a follower of Mercy’s Facebook page. FOHA has a beer counter where proceeds from beer sales were going to help homeless animals. We were supposed to meet at 1:00. While I was at a booth entering another contest for a free service another lady from the leadership team walked right up to me and asked me if Mercy was in the Dock Diving competition. I said no, but that I would be interested in entering her. So we started heading that way even though it was less than 15 minutes before we were to meet Sandra. We started heading for the Dock Diving area. Mercy has put on weight, so she’s a little out of shape right now, and she plopped down for the umpteenth time. I told my husband to wait while I went to the FOHA booth to look for Sandra and ask her to meet us. She wasn’t there. As I headed back, I noticed that there was a security guy by my family. He told me that dogs were not supposed to be there and that we would have to leave. I explained to him that Mercy was making everyone happy and that everyone was benefitting from her being there spreading good cheer and that that should be more important and have more precedence than any rules that I thought were not even applicable to our situation. We headed to the Dock Diving area so I could enter Mercy in the contest, but the security guy was following us then he explained how the area was not the way out, (I knew that. We went there like we told the woman we would) but apparently the woman did not buy my story nor understand that Mercy was a (unofficially) a VIP dog. It was in this area where I noticed the other dog booths, regretting not having gone to this area before. In a sense I feel like we were misguided. The dog area was not even on the main map. Nowhere on the Celebrate Fairfax site do I see where dogs are not allowed. Seeing that there were dog activities while also not stating a no dogs rule on the website gave me the impression that they did not have a no dogs rule. It would have been wiser if I had called and checked, but I didn’t. I did see a sign that said no dogs allowed, but I thought it meant the carnival area since it also stated no strollers and there were plenty of strollers. When we first got to the festival, we were welcomed with open arms or so it seemed. I got concerned when I didn’t see any other dogs in the areas where we were.
I feel as though we were singled out. Yes, I broke the no dog rule, but what makes me feel so upset about this is the fact that we were treated with such reproach when there was no need to. Even when we told them that we had connections with one of the sponsors. I was fulfilling a much higher purpose (civil disobedience if you want to call it that) and priority, which was giving the other citizens celebrating the community joy, happiness and cheer, since Mercy is destined to be an ambassador of Jesus Christ. I plan to formally get involved with shows. I am still working on getting my own gig with Mercy to bring awareness to my ministry. I feel like we were ostracized because we were doing something different from the other dogs that did attend. I wanted to celebrate Fairfax to embrace a happy quality of life for citizens including the joy of dogs. My husband thinks they were out to get us, but that’s going too far.
I long for Mercy and me to have a deep involvement in not only the local community, but the global community at large. I long to belong, but it’s not about me, it’s about God being glorified. I know breaking the rules doesn’t usually glorify God, but the reason why I wrote this post, is because there are times when moral priorities must shift depending on the context. People got mad at Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. Corrie Ten Boom’s morals clashed with the so called Morals, Laws and Standards of the German Nazis when she hid Jewish people in her home. Not everyone has the same set of moral standards or values. I’ve known Fairfax to be tough sometimes, but they also have the resemblance of people who embrace the happiness of children and the joy of dogs and how they benefit the citizens. Most people were overjoyed to see Mercy and she made a lot of people’s day today. I do think however that we were being targeted because we were outcasts acting unorthodoxly. That is immoral. The purpose of this post is an outcry to show others that there are people out there who do not care what matters most (joy, happiness, love, beauty, sweetness), which I thought at least some Fairfax citizens valued. I thought that was the purpose of the festival and it is, but the leaders could not see me as a contribution to that overall purpose, but instead as a drawback to it. This saddens me dearly. The first person took me seriously, but the last two people not so much. We walked past the security booth on the way in and they didn’t stop us then. There must have been something strange about us that they didn’t like. In a sense I feel like we being wrongfully excluded from doing what matters a lot to many people, bringing happiness through the face of a therapy Golden Retriever, whose mission is to reach people with the love of Christ. That is the message I am trying to get out to protest the action taken at a festival against a dog and/or her handler who were supposed to be an instrument of peace, joy, cheer and the celebration of community.