I was thrilled to attend this year’s annual Pinot & Pups Gala at the Portland Art Museum.  I could go on and on about what an amazing event this was, but I truly think you should attend one of Guide Dogs for the Blind’s auctions and experience it firsthand.  Hence, my top 10 list of WHY you don’t want to miss GDB events such as Pinot & Pups.

#10 Date Night: At this stage in my life, fancy occasions such as weddings have dwindled, replaced by many nights in reading “Fancy Nancy” to my 7 year-old while dreaming of a night out when I can once again be fancy.  A Gala, which is a fancy word for a very expensive party, is the perfect excuse to call a baby-sitter and get all dressed up.

Staci and Brandon Barnes holding their baby girl and a yellow puppy.

Staci and Brandon Barnes holding their baby girl and a yellow puppy.

#9 Fancy Footwear: Playing dress-up includes one of my favorite things – fancy shoes! To my dismay, Joy was not thrilled with the sexy high-heels I chose for her to wear to the Gala.  “My feet are killing me, and it’s only been 10 minutes!” she hissed at me as we mingled over passed hors d’oeuvres.  “Once your toes go completely numb, you’ll be fine. ” I tried to convince her  But lucky for Joy, my most fashionable friend, Staci Stevens of Mapel Boutique, was also enjoying date night at the Gala.  We discreetly slipped Joy an equally fancy yet less painful pair of heels under the table before she had to walk up on stage.

Joy Thomas and Jenelle Landgraf posing with Roja at the Gala

Joy Thomas and Jenelle Landgraf posing with Roja at the Gala

#8 Furry Friends: Within minutes of arriving at the Gala, an adorable golden-haired puppy was placed in my arms for a photo opp.

Tom and Judy Derpack cuddling a yellow puppy

Tom and Judy Derpack cuddling a yellow puppy

#7 Delicacies: That’s fancy for deliciously expensive food.  There was plenty of it.  At one point, Joy made my husband hunt down the tray of bacon wrapped dates, so she could have “just one more”.

#6 Magical Music:  Not only was the violin music a beautiful backdrop to this fancy occasion, but it possessed magical powers that compelled one generous donor to give an extra $10,000 to play a song to my adorable nieces, Lucy and Elliana.

Ben, Joy, Lucy, Elliana, and Roja posing for a picture at the Gala.

Ben, Joy, Lucy, Elliana, and Roja posing for a picture at the Gala.

#5 Cuddles & Kisses: Don’t have a date to bring to the Gala? Not necessary.  You will be adorned with kisses without any strings attached.  These playful pups were ready to snuggle and show all the guests a good time.

Yellow puppy giving Torrey Landgraf kisses while Brandon Barnes pets the puppy.

Yellow puppy giving Torrey Landgraf kisses while Brandon Barnes pets the puppy.

#4 Generous Rich People: It’s not often that I have the opportunity to rub elbows with people who could star on “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous”, so it was exciting to watch the bidding cards fly high in the air as auction items sold for more than I’ve ever seen in my bank account.  It was heart-warming to see so many generous people in one room pledging their dollars to Guide Dogs for the Blind, an amazing organization worthy of every penny.

#3 Fine Wine: I’ve visited Napa Valley a couple times, and frequent some award-winning wineries near my home in Eastern WA, so my taste buds know what good wine tastes like.  But rarely have I had such “fine” wine, the kind that makes you want to savor every sip.

Audience holding up different bidder cards during the auction.

Audience holding up different bidder cards during the auction.

#2 Inspirational Speakers: Each year, GDB chooses a different guide dog handler to share their story of how having a guide dog has impacted their life.  This year’s keynote speakers was none other than my twin sister, Joy Thomas! Butterflies fluttered around in my belly as I watched her walk up on stage with her amazing guide dog, Roja.  Joy spoke earnestly about the ways in which Roja has helped her to walk confidently and show up in the world like she’s always dreamed of.  While I was all too familiar with the challenges of vision loss that she described to the audience, I still felt goosebumps as she described how her life has transformed.

Joy Thomas standing behind a podium and speaking at the Gala with Roja by her side.

Joy Thomas standing behind a podium and speaking at the Gala with Roja by her side.

And the Number One Reason to attend such an event is….drum roll please!

The PUPPIES: Need I say more?

Paw print spotlights illuminating the stage.

Paw print spotlights illuminating the stage.

Guide Dogs for the Blind’s fundraising auction in Portland, Oregon. June, 2016. Photos by Morry Anne Angell and Danielle Grace, Guide Dogs for the Blind.

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3 thoughts on “Pinot & Pups: Top 10 List

  1. It is so wonderful to see you as young ladies and mothers.
    I wish you both good health and and lots of love,however it looks like you both doing fine.
    Much Love,
    Joy

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