If you ride through downtown Tarboro and see a woman walking a pink dog, don't fret. It's not a dream.
Tarboro resident Barbara Hooker dyed her poodle, "Sir Mason", pink after her friend suggested she do so. A few days later, Hooker and "Sir Mason" received more attention than she could imagine. It wasn't long afterward when Hooker came up with the idea to use that attention to raise money for "Sir Mason's" playmate, "Wizard" — a 10-year-old cocker terrier who is in dire need of surgery. She said a nerve has damaged his spinal cord and he can no longer walk. Hooker, an avid animal lover who has three dogs, 14 cats and two birds, is taking care of the pooch and is asking for donations to help pay for the procedure, which is projected to cost at least $3,200.
"The bottom line is to whether to have the surgery or put him to sleep," Hooker said. "We can't think of putting him to sleep right now. He's so full of life. So if anyone who would like to donate toward this surgery to help "Sir Mason's" playmate, please call me at 266-7627."
"Sir Mason" received his bright pink coat from a professional groomer in Greenville. Groomer Samantha Tyson said dyeing a dogs' coat is becoming popular. She said she has at least three customers who keep dyeing their dogs on a continuing basis. One coloring is expected to last up to six months.
"It's not quite as fun as it looks," Tyson said during a telephone interview. "Dogs don't keep still. When they shake because water is on them, they splash splotches of dye everywhere. But we enjoy it."
Tyson said the dye used is specifically for animals and is not harmful. Before agreeing to do the process, the groomer "throughly inspects" the dog and its skin to assure the animal would not be harmed by the dye.
"It the dog chews on its skin or has any rashes or anything like that, we will not do it," Tyson said.
Apparently "Sir Mason" was given a clean bill of health. However, it wasn't quite that easy for Hooker to agree to dye her poodle pink. Hooker said she researched the possible danger of dying dogs and found none when done by a professional groomer. The rest is history.
"Sir Mason" was given his new coat on Dec. 8. Now, their daily walk downtown is not quite as normal for ""Sir Mason" and his owner.
"People pass by on cars and circle the block, some blow the horn and some stop traffic just to look at him — they say really good things about him," Hooker said. "Some people want to take pictures. My daughter told me that people are talking about it on the computer."
"But I don't want that to get lost in what I'm trying to do. I need to raise money for surgery or ... " pausing before adding, "I don't want to think about. If he get what he needs he can live another six or seven years."
When Hooker was asked, what would you say to the critics who make fun of "Sir Mason's" pink fur?, she replied, "Real men wear pink for a good cause. This is a good cause."