Santa takes photos with pets in Ukiah for a good cause
By Justine Frederiksen, Ukiah Daily Journal
Just as many children don’t want to sit with Santa for a photo, many animals don’t, either.
So the women taking photos of all sorts of pets with Santa Claus Saturday in Rainbow Ag in Ukiah had all sorts of tricks up their sleeve for getting the perfect shot.
“Where’s the treat bag?” one of the women asked as Julie Knudsen squeaked the pink toy she was holding up to get a distracted Corgi to look at the camera.
“There, I think I got it,” said Charity Armstrong, who patiently took frame after frame of each animal to get the perfect shot, then showed the owners the result before moving on. Sometimes, she even took more shots with the owners sitting in as well.
“I love this – I love animals,” said Armstrong, who volunteers her time for the event every year along with Knudsen and many others as a way to raise money for Ukiah’s SNAP (Spay and Neuter Assistance Program).
They ask anyone with a dog, cat, or even a bearded dragon who wants a photo with Santa for $20, then the SNAP volunteers give them either a printed photograph or a CD of files of the session.
“They support us every year,” Knudsen said of the next owners, who were dressed as Nurse Rex and Doctor Leslie since their poodle Ollie was sporting a cast on one of his back legs.
“He tore his Achilles’ tendon,” said Rex, explaining that the couple’s friends look forward to seeing their photo with Santa every year.
Ollie definitely appeared used to having his photo taken with Santa, as he was much more calm than many other dogs – one young Jack Russell Terrier squirmed so much he nearly escaped Santa’s grasp.
A much larger dog also gave Santa a workout as he tried to keep the nearly reindeer-sized “Louie” seated on his right and a more medium-sized dog seated on his left.
“OK, I think Santa’s done,” Knudsen exclaimed, watching his grip on the leashes loosen.
For the next photo, Santa was rewarded with a boxer named Sage who not only sat calmly by his side, but reached over at least twice to give Santa a kiss.
“She’s a good kisser,” owners Ruth and Jim Barnes said of the 7-year-old dog they said they adopted from “the pound.”
The event went from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Rainbow Ag, which Knudsen said offers up a large corner of its store to the event every year free of charge.
By 2:30 p.m., close to 70 people had paid for photos, and there were still several people in line as well.