Update about the Good Furry Award, and The Furry Book from Grubbs Grizzly

by Patch O'Furr

The Good Furry Award is here to spread good news! Without speaking for the award or anyone involved, here’s a message with an exclusive book excerpt.

Regular readers who come here for the pulse of the fandom know that negative news can have a lot of impact. Obviously, there’s good reasons to spread important issues and stand for the truth.

But do you ever get fed up with hearing about bad behavior by ignoramuses who can barely care for a potted plant, let alone maintain good relations with other fans? Would you rather not devote too much mental real estate to occasional stories here about:

  • crooks, scammers, grifters, abusers, or puppy kickers
  • trolls who raid and scheme to ruin conventions, anyone named “Fox Hitler” or anything similar, and hate groups
  • suckers and Quislings who do apologism about “both sides” to cover for haters and attack caring about anything at all
  • and other villains and underminers who don’t make anything better

The vast majority of furries DON’T do that:

  • Creative people who have a goal to make things
  • Hard working volunteers who carry out cons, meets, parties and parades
  • Charity supporters and pro-active moderators who help for little in return
  • and other cool people who genuinely care about things and share messages that show it

Some of them are so supportive, that they deserve a boost for recognition, a trip to Hawaii, a million dollars… and much more that’s way beyond the power of a little fandom to provide (except hugs, they’re free). But the Good Furry Award will boost their stories AND give them a thousand dollars.

The first four nominees are a key staffer for Morphicon/AnthrOhio, a 1980’s fandom founder, an animal caretaker and community volunteer, and a longtime event organizer and website hoster. Read about them here, from Grubbs Grizzly, founder of the award.

Speaking of getting the pulse of fandom…

If you’re a devoted member, you might be quite familiar with all the regular issues. But if you’re new and just starting to dip a paw in, you might not know where to start. For them, Grubbs Grizzly’s in-progress The Furry Book looks like a one-stop-shop to learn and get excited. I think this is something long overdue for book stores, gift occasions, or more.  Grubbs shared an exclusive excerpt and introduction.

Cover art by Charleston Rat

The Furry Book

The following excerpt is a preview from Grubbs Grizzly’s book The Furry Book: The Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of the Furry Fandom. Kevin Hile (the mundane behind the bear) is a published author and an editor of reference books. Combining his 30 years of professional experience in the reference book field with his years as a furry (including attending furcons in Illinois, Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, and California), he has been working steadily to complete this manuscript in 2018. It is, in essence, a guidebook to the fandom aimed at helping everyone from inexperienced furries new to the fandom to their parents and other family members, and from journalists and other media professionals who seriously want to learn about furries to experienced furfans who would like a handy guide all in one book.

Kevin, who as Grubbs also writes the furry advice column “Ask Papabear,” originally began researching and interviewing for his book in 2015. Tragically that year, his mate, Jim, died unexpectedly, and for the next two and a half years he struggled just to keep his job and maintain his home and little dog, Ernie. By mid-2018, he started to feel well enough to return to his furry project.

The Furry Book covers all the bases, including some history of the fandom, of course, but also delving into the psychology behind this unique fandom that arose in the 1970s and ’80s. In addition, it is a practical guide on how to be furry, offering enough information to benefit both novice and greymuzzle alike.

Learn the answers to such questions as: What sorts of people are furries? Why are they fascinated by anthropomorphic characters in literature and film? Heck, what is an anthro? What makes the furry fandom different from other fandoms? Can anyone be a furry? Is it just a hobby or something more? What do people do at a furcon? Are there other places one can find furries besides conventions? Can you make money in the fandom? How has Japanese anime influenced furry art and culture? What’s an otherkin? What are the best online resources in furry culture? Why is Zootopia considered an important film? How does the children’s book The Wind in the Willows factor into the history of the fandom? Should parents forbid their children from being furries? And much, much more.

The following is an uncorrected sample from the “How?” section of the book….

Preparing for a Furry Convention

If you are certain you are attending a particular furry convention, the best thing to do is buy your tickets and make reservations early. Cons usually give you discounts on admission when you book early. Visit the website to see when registration begins and how long discounts are offered. Furthermore, discounts may be available for attendees under 18, and children accompanied by adults may be free, depending on the con. Online registration is by credit card or, in some cases, PayPal. If you are underage, you will, of course, need a parent’s or guardian’s permission to pay in advance. Paying at the door is always an option, naturally.

When you arrive at the convention, you will have to stand in a queue, whether or not you have preregistered (I have yet to see a convention that mails you passes to your home—would be nice, though, if, for example, QR codes could be sent to your phone like they do at other conventions; perhaps someday…). The preregistered line can often be as long as the line for those registering at the door, but once you get to the front it goes more quickly because badges and any other materials such as con books should be ready (this is not always the case; it depends on how well the con is organized).

Give yourself plenty of time to get your registration packet. At large cons, it can even be a challenge to find where registration is. I’ve been to furcons where signage was definitely lacking, and it was hard to find any staff to help. On the other paw, I’ve been to great convention that make this whole process simple. Biggest Little Furcon in Reno, Nevada, springs to mind in this case. It’s one of the best-run conventions out there, which is one reason it is also one of the fastest-growing furcons in the United States.

What should I take to a furcon?

If you have one, your fursuit, of course! (See the section on caring for your fursuit for more information regarding this.) The second obvious item is money. If you got it, bring it.

It’s more common to see furries budgeting and keeping costs low, however, than spending like someone who just won the lottery. The two areas where you can cut the most costs are the room and food. Now, con organizers typically work with hotels to reserve a block of rooms for furries at a discounted price, so you’ll automatically save money there if you can get into the main hotel (sometimes the main hotel is full, and you’ll have to find another nearby place to stay, so, again, there’s an advantage to planning early). Room sharing is common at furcons for saving more cash (check out the ConRoomies.com discussion below). If you already have furry pals who are going to the same furcon as you, you’re all set: room with them! Check hotel guidelines to see what the limit is per room, which is usually four to six (if the hotel allows a cot to be dragged in, or if you get a suite).

If you need a roommate, then there are ways to connect. One good way is to register at the furcon’s website, and then see if they have a discussion board where you can post your need for a roommate. You can also see if the furcon has a Twitter or Facebook page and seek roomies there, and, finally, you can just check out various furry groups online and, again, announce your need for someone to share expenses. Lots of furries do this successfully but be careful to try and talk to and get to know the other furries you may be sharing a room with to see if you’ll be comfortable with them.

The other major expense (other than buying fun stuff at the Dealers’ Den) is food. Hotel fare is usually a bit overpriced. Many furries, therefore, go on a bit of a shopping trip before a con, which works especially well if your room has a refrigerator and/or microwave. If not, buy dry goods and other things that don’t need cooking. Bring a small ice chest to keep drinks cool if there is no fridge. For food, it depends on whether you wish to be good or bad. Many people throw all caution to the wind during what can be a party weekend and don’t worry about unhealthy snacks. I, on the other hand, think it’s a good idea to purchase some fruit, which will be fine unrefrigerated for a couple days. You can purchase cereals (or pastries, when naughty) and put a quart of milk in the fridge or ice chest. This will save you a lot of money versus buying such things at the hotel convenience store or restaurant. At one Califur I attended, a friend of mine brought bread, packaged tuna, and oatmeal (use the coffee pot in the room to heat up water). There are several dehydrated or freeze-dried products you can buy that, while not the best in flavor, will do in a pinch at a con if you are really trying to save bucks. (Note: a no-no is to bring your own hotplate—a fire hazard that hotels, of course, forbid!)

Before you attend your furcon, check out the location of the hotel and see what restaurants are nearby—if any. When I went to Midwest FurFest in Chicago, the choices were not too great within walking distance, and I ended up spending a lot for food in the hotel restaurant and at a place across the street. Back in the day that Furry Convention North was still running in Novi, Michigan, the location was great! Lots of choices—from fast food to family restaurants—were within a block or two. Keep this in mind as you make your travel plans.

Other Ways to Prepare for Your Furcon Adventure

On to other things: you might want to bring a small bag of medical supplies, including some or all of the following: bandages, Bactine®, aspirin, Tums®, Imodium®, tweezers, and sunscreen; a pocket knife can also come in handy, as well as nail clippers if you break a nail. You might also want to take Airborne® daily while at the con to help keep germs away (the infamous “con crud”; see below). Take some multivitamins, too.

If you’re a fursuiter, remember to bring a repair kit with you, including things like needle and thread, fabric glue, and, if you have them, extra fur for patching or other spare parts for replacing things that might break. Bring Gatorade (or similar drinks with electrolytes, such as Powerade, Propel, or VitaminWater) to replenish yourself after suiting.

If you have one, take a cell phone with you. Make sure numbers of family members are there in the directory on your phone to contact in case someone needs to call and you are unable to. Barring that, just in case, keep a list of contact names in your wallet or purse. This isn’t always necessary if you are with close friends who already know whom to contact in an emergency, but in a panicky situation it might be should they forget the numbers to call.

Do not take valuables with you to a con, such as expensive jewelry, lots of cash, or expensive electronics, unless you can keep them in a safe while at the hotel. And keep an eye on your fursuit; it’s not unheard of for people to be victims of fursuit theft at a con, although that’s rare. Keep cherished items you might have been considering taking (e.g., a favorite plushie with sentimental value) at home. You don’t want to risk losing something like that at a hotel.

Check the weather forecast before you leave home and make sure you pack clothes appropriate for the weather, especially if you’re going somewhere that gets very chilly at night. Take a bathing suit if the hotel has a pool (they usually do).

What if the con hotel is full?

Some of the more popular cons see their reserved floors fill up fast! For example, at BLFC 2018, when registration opened the rooms were all booked within ten minutes. But don’t despair. You can sometimes find a room to share with furries who booked a room with the idea of finding roommates later, or who had roomies but they backed out for some reason.

There’s a helpful website for that called ConRoomies.com. It is organized by convention and allows people to post if they are looking for a bed to flop on or if they have one to spare.

Some of the larger conventions also have overflow hotels, so check for that on their websites. Barring this, there is no reason you can’t stay at a non-con hotel or motel nearby—often for less money, even given the fact that furcons reserve room blocks for guests at discounted prices, but con hotels are typically high-end facilities with premium prices, so it can still cost you a hefty chunk of change.

If you are a fursuiter, there are obvious advantages to being in the main con hotel: it is much easier to change and shower when this is the case. But if you have no choice but to stay off-site, I suggest trying to find a friend who has a con hotel room and asking them if you can borrow it to change into your fursuit and shower afterwards.

You’re at the Furcon! Now What?

There is so much to do at a furcon, but where do you start? Many first-timers tend to go a little nuts at their first con. The joy of being surrounded by furries like yourself can go to your head, and you find yourself making new friends, going to dances, hanging out in hotel rooms, shopping in the dealers’ den, watching movies, and before you know it, the furcon is over and you have to go home. Here are a couple tips….

The 6-2-1 Rule

Because furcons generally last only three days or so, it’s tempting to stay up all night and get in as much fun as possible while you can, snack all day and not get a decent meal, and even forego some basic hygiene. This is a recipe for what has been called “con crud.” When your body gets run down from lack of sleep and decent food, your immune system weakens and leaves you vulnerable to a cold or flu. This is why the 6-2-1 Rule became the word at furcons (some cons even hold forums about it for first-timers). What is it? Simple. Follow these guidelines:

  • 6 hours of sleep a night, minimum
  • 2 decent meals a day (that means, not cold pizza from last night or a pop tart as you rush out the door to see your friends)
  • 1 shower or bath per day (please wash!)

Hint: if you want to make new friends at a con, it helps if you don’t reek like yesterday’s garbage. This is known as “con funk,” the stench that occurs from the buildup of bacteria on your body when you don’t wash regularly. This is particularly piquant for fursuiters, who sweat profusely. So please, take 10 minutes out of your schedule to shower.

Papabear Says….

Elevators! OMG! Elevators at a furcon can be such a hassle—almost hysterically so. I’ve seen them get so crowded that they have broken down early on, making for quite a challenge if you are a fursuiter with a 10th-floor room.

Etiquette standards quickly evolved for this reason: When boarding an elevator, preference is given (after any impaired or disabled guests) to fursuiters. The reason for this is that it is much more difficult for them to negotiate cramped spaces, and they also frequently come accompanied by a handler. In the case of an elevator going up from the lobby, too, the fursuiter may need to get to their room quickly to cool off. If you are not in fursuit, therefore, please be kind and considerate to those who are when it comes to elevators!

Are furcons safe to attend?

All well-organized furcons operate under a code of conduct (sometimes called the standard of contact on their website). That is, there are rules that you must agree to before you are allowed to register. This is a combination of what the convention administrators expect of you, as well as the hotel management. Hotels and furcon management reserve the right to, basically, kick people out of the con if they misbehave. This includes everything from rowdy behavior to being drunk and disorderly and from disrespecting other guests to not smoking (including e-cigs), no vandalism, no loud parties, no trashing of rooms, no sleeping in corridors and lobbies, and so on. If your offense is supremely … well, offensive, you may find yourself banned from the con. You might think to yourself, “Well, I’ll just attend a different con!” But con admins are known to share information about troublesome attendees with other furry conventions, so such plans by you could be thwarted.

In other words, don’t act like an idiot, and you should be fine.

To enforce the rules, there is a combination of both hotel security and security that is hired by the con management itself. You can anticipate that your room might be inspected by hotel staff, even if you put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door and don’t ask for room service. While most furries behave themselves, there are always a few people who act like (let’s face it) drunken fools. They can ruin it for everyone, which is why well-managed furcons have this kind of security. Everyone wants the attendees to have a good (and safe) time. This goes double for younger furries who are under 18.

Parents of minors who have not been to a furcon before have expressed concern that there may be adult material too readily accessible for their boy or girl. Standards for any adult material in the art room or dealers’ den are also long-established. An art room at a furcon is a room set aside for guests to view and appreciate paintings, sculptures, and other artworks. When there is any mature art on display, it is always put in a separate area that is clearly marked and not viewable unless you enter a designated door. Minors are not allowed in these areas. In the dealers’ den, there may be artists who have some adult work to sell, but such work is placed in closed folders or in boxes that are also clearly marked as being for 18 and over furries. The best thing for a parent to do, therefore, is to always accompany their charge when going into the art room or dealers’ den.

What about minors unaccompanied by parents or guardians? Furcon organizers will ask for a notarized parental permission form before allowing a minor to attend their convention. Read the Standards of Conduct page on your furcon’s website to learn more about what is expected of minors.

Another concern at conventions has been weaponry—not real weapons but toy weapons and props for fursuits. Some furcons I’ve been to completely forbid any weaponry props just to make things simpler, but other cons (e.g. Anthrocon), allow them to be carried for special functions such as the fursuit parade or the “Anthrocon Tonight” show. However, at all other times the props must be put away in a secured location approved by the Security Chief at the con.

[Stay tuned for more!]

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