A woman and her Bernese mountain dog became the unwitting stars of a furry convention this weekend after the woman mistook the gathering as an event for pets.
Cheryl Wassus of Monroe, Michigan, is a volunteer with Pets for Vets, a nonprofit that matches therapy dogs with military veterans. When Wassus learned that Motor City Furry Con in Novi, Michigan, was raising money for the organization, she assumed it must be a pet-themed convention.
It was a reasonable mistake. For those unaware, furries are people who enjoy dressing up in anthropomorphic animal costumes and role-playing. That’s not what Wassus or Link — who has training as a therapy dog — expected.
Wassus’ son, New York Media producer Kenny Wassus, tweeted some incredible photos of the mix-up on Saturday.
“This is just a whole subculture I wasn’t even aware existed,” Cheryl Wassus told New York magazine. “When we set up tables and do promos and educate the public and do outreach, I had no idea the outreach was going to be other human … furry people. I guess you’re never too old to learn.” (Read her full interview with NYMag, which is amazing, here.)
Wassus told Cosmopolitan that the convention’s organizers had invited her to do a presentation about Pets for Vets, and that it just never became clear what a “furry con” was.
“I usually try to do some research the night before I go to these events but the website was pretty obscure,” she said.
But the surprise worked out for the best. Wassus, Link and the furries got along famously. Link was a little confused at first, Wassus said, and did some “serious tail-sniffing” at the sight of all the two-legged animals. But it all ended up being no big deal.
“They weren’t offended, though. They just embraced him,” she told NYMag. “It was all good. Just a real interested community.”
Plus, the event was a big win for Pets for Vets ― Motor City Furry Con raised $10,000 for the group.
The media tends to associate being a furry with a sexual fetish, but most furry fans say it’s really not about that.
“In reality, furries are fans of a concept: ‘What if intelligent animals lived among us, or replaced us?’” Laurence Parry, editor-in-chief of furry-centric news site Flayrah, told The Huffington Post in 2014. “From this, all else flows — art, crafts, stories, role-playing and costuming.”