Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Power of Dogs

Sometimes my booksignings are madhouses. I've been literally mobbed by ladies going through my wares like it was Filene's Basement sale. I guess that's because I often give away something for free to draw folks to my table. Sometimes it's bowls of Dove chocolate. For the past three years I've given away autographed poster size photo art printed on the Kodak NexPress Digital Printer. These prints were legit, since we had to do test runs to warm up the machines. And rather than throw away the results, I just kept them with my boss's blessing.

But now that I'm no longer employed by Kodak, I don't have that advantage anymore. So, I decided to mat and frame my art photos and try to sell them. You can see some of them in the picture from yesterday's event. Melanie kept rearranging the table to more artfully present the items - didn't she do a nice job?
So, aside from bookmarks and flyers, I didn't have any more big ticket freebies to give away yesterday. I'm not sure if that's why business has dropped, if it's the economy, or if the past two sales (with abysmal numbers) were just vagaries of life, just coincidences. On average, I usually sell 20-25 books per sale at my favorite winery. The last two sales brought in a grand total of NINE books and one framed print. Abysmal! But I try to stay positive, and always tell myself, "it's nine more books than I would have sold if I'd stayed home." Right? Right.
Yesterday's event at Knapp Winery on Cayuga Lake was so pleasant that it didn't matter. It was a special celebration all along the lake of greyhounds and their rescue owners, and all dogs were invited. Daughter Melanie came along to keep me good company, and she brought her Rat Terrier, Toby. He is a doll, and was a great ice breaker. We met dogs of all breeds - from scores of beautiful greyhounds (I was so amazed at how laid back and loving they are!) to poodles, cocker spaniels, wonderful mutts, and a little tiny dog named Maggie May who rode in her owner's front pack with a baseball cap on. So cute!) Toby poked his head out from beneath the tablecloth (see above) to greet everyone, and Melanie walked him all over the grounds to make new doggie friends.
Having the dogs in this very public venue was a thrill. People were drawn to each other, chatted like never before, and extended themselves in ways normally not associated with wine tasting. An elderly man crouched down to scrub a spaniel's ears and talk "babytalk" to him. Greyhound owners congregated and chatted, and their dogs lay down on the cold cement and licked each other's faces. Little babies tottered about, shrieking with joy. There were smiles everywhere, and people met each other's eyes without fail.
So here's the question.
Why can't we take our well behaved dogs everywhere? Why isnt' it okay to bring Balto into a clothing store? He's neat, clean, and well trained. Heck, in France and Italy they allow dogs in restaurants. It's no different from home, where our dear pets lay beneath the dinner table or sit by our sides. Life would be sweeter, folks would smile more, and that innocence that lies behind stranger's masks would pop out unexpectedly, giving us a glimpse of the real person who lies dormant beneath.
A few simple rule changes could make it happen. Any chance our new President would be up for it?

- Aaron


Marta Stephens said...

Aaron, sounds like you had a great day!!

My best book signing was the first at B&N 25 books in two hours. My worse, zero at a library in a small communuity during a Christmas luminary celebration. The whole town was very festive, but the economy had just taken a nose dive and no one was spending anything extra--can't blame them.

Well, as you know I'm a dog lover and folks who rescue animals are the best (I'm so modest!) We have an 11-year old Boston Bull, Maggie Mae that we bought and raised as a pup. We rescued our 8-year old Boston, Buddy from the pound, and two years ago we rescued two mini Daschounds, Moo and Candy. Thank goodness the dogs are small and the house is big. Still, I can't walk away from a neglected animal. Glad to know there are so many of us out there! Love Toby's picture. :)

As for the prez? Hmmm He'd probably find a way to tax us a gazillion dollars for it. ;)

s.w. vaughn said...

Oh, how very cool! That must've been sooo much fun! You're right - people are a lot friendlier to each other when there are dogs involved. :-)

Hey, Obama has a dog too! Ya never know, he might just go for something like that. :-)

joylene said...

I would love to take my Syberian Husky, Bandit with me on my book signings. He has white-blue eyes that draw you to him, eventho, at first, his gaze seems ominous. A second or two passes and his gentle nature shines through.

Thanks for the ideas, Aaron.

Kim Smith said...

ahhh.... I cannot wait until I can have a book signing!!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments. ;o) Dogs just bring people together, don't they?

Sheila Deeth said...

Lovely table. Lovely dog. One of the things I like about Oregon is how dog-friendly most people are here.