2007-12-12 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

Brave Doodle with Santa Brave Doodle with Santa They do it because they love us. Let's face it,if given the choice, no pet would opt to pose with Santa. They do it because we dress them up and drag them there. They do it because we don't give them enough warning to hide our car keys.

Over the last two Sundays I took Santa pictures for Last Hope's fund raiser at PetSmart. You get an amusing perspective when on the other side of the lens. Since I'm busy as a photographer, my dogs have been spared the holiday humiliation. This gave me the opportunity to make a few objective observations of the whole Santa scene:

Truism #1- Pets have no ulterior motive. Greedy kids with specific wish lists longer than the LIE visit Santa to nag him. (Over 32 years in the classroom permits me to say that.) They need to be sure Mr. Claus can MapQuest their address, whereas naive dogs and cats, unaware of the Christmas Eve pay off, never want to see the bearded weirdo again.

Truism #2-Pets think "Santa" is an anagram for "Satan". Fido/Fluffy can't fathom why Mom and Dad would throw him on such a grotesque stranger, fretting: "What's with the tacky red get-up? Wild, white furry face? Did this monster just inhale an Old English Sheepdog? Oh, no, his protruding stomach is proof. Besides, this sweaty fellow smells of moth balls and the ghosts of Christmas Dogs Past. How dare you try to hand me over as his next victim?"

Truism #3-Cowardice increases with size. Small dogs eventually stop squirming and settle on scary Santa's lap. Large dogs are the biggest wimps. A Bull Mastiff was our worst chicken. Often the owner has to grab Bruiser and squeeze into the picture so the huge moose won't vamoose.

Truism #4-Strive for canine contrast rather than camouflage. Bichons and Malti-Poos are lost against St. Nick's snowy beard. Pets clad in Santa outfits won't stand out next to the red suit. (Please don't tell PetSmart that I borrowed dog sweaters and boas off the rack to add more color.)

Truism #5-Dogs are more stylish than we are. Pups arrive brushed and dressed in their finest holiday attire. "Precious", a 12 year old Beagle, the grandest fashion diva, made her entrance sporting a "Village People" hat and then a quick change into her black velvet party dress. Sometimes a family wants to be in the photo. They can ruin the shot. Dogs don't insist on wearing lumpy ski jackets or backwards baseball caps. One woman complained that her teenager's hair covered his face in the photo. Perhaps next time the groomer at the back of the store could give her son a puppy cut.

Truism #6-Canine customers are duped into meeting Santa. We get lots of the PetSmart regulars. Certain dogs are personal shoppers; they accompany their owners all the time. Others visit the store for day camp romps. Little do they know that there's no play date. Instead they will be seeing the dreaded Man in Red. Cheated, they are no longer "happy campers".

Truism #7-Dogs don't notice Santa

subtleties. Unlike kids, dogs won't sniff out Santa impersonators. Dogs don't care if our fake Kris Kringle is a man or a high school girl, nor do they mind if blonde hair or a Blue Tooth sticks out from under the white wig. In fact, rambunctious pups pull off Santa's glasses and wig. Dogs aren't impressed that the real St. Nick has a North Pole zip code. They just want to take a quick detour down the biscuit aisle as they exit... Gotta get home to protect house and hearth, in case this Santa character ever tries to invade their territory.

Hope this silliness didn't scare you away. Santa photos are great fun. There's still one more weekend- Dec. 15-16 from 11 to 4- to have your pet's picture taken with "Santa Claws" at the Last Hope Cat Corner in PetSmart Huntington Sta., on Rt. 110, near Toys R Us. A 5 X 7 framed photo costs $10; or $9 with a store discount card. PetSmart is very generous; $5 from each picture helps Last Hope's rescued animals. Take a look at Last Hope's gorgeous cats for adoption while you are there. You'll be bedazzled.

Our poster pups this week are Last Hope fosters, formerly Babylon Town Shelter dogs. "Lucky" isn't lucky. Every home prospect fizzles. This spry 9 yr. purebred Smooth Fox Terrier, 20 lbs., is so lonely. Lucky desperately wants someone to love. We'd prefer a home without small children. He'd make a great companion for an older person.

"Santana", a 4 yr. Shepherd mix, spent most of his life chained to a tree with no doghouse. Despite this, he is extremely gentle and sweet. He let me dress him up as his rock star namesake. Indoor experiences are understandably new to Santana. At first cement and tile floors at the shelter frightened him. "Santana" needs someone to make up for the affection he's missed. The Last Hope Dog Center www.last-hopeanimalrescue.org-adjoins Basic Pet Care, 642 Rt. 109, Lindenhurst. Call 631-946- 9528 or 631- 661-6164 for an appt. to meet these dear dogs.

*Another Event: Chinese Auction to benefit Little Shelter at the American Legion, 340 Union, W. Islip, Sat. Dec. 15 at 2 PM. Call 631-487-4272.

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