When animal lover Cheryl Wassus discovered that there was a "Furry Convention" taking place near her home in Detroit - and that it was raising money for Pets for Vets, a charity she's actively involved in - she decided to go along, taking her Bernese mountain dog, Link.
As she later explained to Cosmopolitan.com, the organizers of the event had contacted her asking her if she'd like to do a presentation for the charity, which pairs dogs with military veterans.
Cheryl had mistakenly assumed that the convention would be an animal event, and that she and Link would fit right in.
my mom thought furrycon was a pet event and volunteered w our therapy dog pic.twitter.com/mizlydLxjl— kenny wassus (@kgw) April 8, 2017
"I usually try to do some research the night before I go to these events but the website was pretty obscure," she said. "It had a links and information on how to register but no pictures. So I just assumed it was a regular business convention of some sort."
However, it was not an event for pets. Motor City Furry Con, to give it its official title, was billed as a "furry, or anthropomorphics, convention."
"It is run for the furry fandom," the event's website explains, "with the intention of offering programming catered to members of the furry fandom, as well as offering a venue for dealers, costumers, and general socializing of said fandom."
Link being a good sport pic.twitter.com/wLSnGNi82Q— kenny wassus (@kgw) April 8, 2017
Furries, if you weren't aware, are people who enjoy dressing up as cartoonish, anthropomorphised animals. Often characterised as a fetish, many in the furry fandom prefer to describe their dressing up as a hobby.
While doubtlessly a little fazed on first arriving, Cheryl says she went on to have a great time with the furries, as did Link.
"It was a little embarrassing at first because Link was just a little curious why people were wearing tails, so he was doing some serious tail-sniffing and checking out people. They weren't offended, though, they just embraced him
"I learned so much about this whole new culture of people who get together and dress up in furry costumes," she told New York magazine.
ok link is starting to panic now sos pic.twitter.com/VFFmYtFOfZ— kenny wassus (@kgw) April 8, 2017
"I didn't know that there was this progression - like first, they choose a name, and start off with just a tail and ears. But from there, some of these costumes are amazing, and so elaborate."
Asked how she feels about furries after spending a day with them, Cheryl says: "To each his own. This seems pretty harmless.
"It seemed like there were lots of people around the same age. I saw little pieces of humanity I'd never seen before."