The annual Pet Photos With Santa was this weekend. This is a fundraiser where, for a $15 donation to whatever animal charity is sponsoring it, you can have you and your pet's photo taken with Santa. This year, it was sponsored by CARE for Animals. Sometimes they have one and sometimes it is the Humane Society of Pulaski County (I have a warm spot for them since I have 2 of their dogs). I am more than willing to support either one.
Of course we went and had our pictures taken. This is a tradition with us, and has been for some time now. It started back in 1992 when I first heard about it after moving back to North Little Rock from Conway where I went to graduate school. I took my dog at the time and we had our picture taken with Santa and framed it for my mom for Christmas from the dog. She loved it, and we started going every year, she and I and whatever combination of dogs there were at the time. We missed 2-3 years scattered in there, but by and large it has been an annual tradition. The Christmas before my mother passed away the following March, she and I and my 2 dogs and her dog (Rudy, my inheritance) were supposed to go but she was in the hospital on the date of the photo shoot. So my aunt is in that one with us. Now it's just me and the dogs.
So this weekend was it, and my friend David (who is a saint and prince among men) went with me to help. He did this last year too and after it was all over, he told me that I needed to find some new friends. In spite of this (and because he had all year to recover) he agreed to go with me again this year. It should be noted that I have had friends go with me and help me in the past, but he is the only person who has been willing to repeat the experience. It should also be noted that David is, as they say, a cat person. He likes dogs ok - as long as they don't lick him and he doesn't have to take care of them for any extended period - but what David looks for in a pet is a cat.
This experience involves gathering up all 4 dogs (remember one of them is the size of a small horse), getting them settled in the car (or at least all 4 of them in the car with all the doors closed), transporting them to the location, getting all 4 dogs into the building, trying to get all 4 dogs to settle with Santa and I, trying to get all 4 dogs to look at the camera, trying to recapture any dogs who escape from Santa and I, getting all 4 dogs back in the car (again, with all doors closed - because having the dogs in the car and having the dogs closed in the car are two very different things), getting the dogs back home and into the house while simultaneously leaving the cat and most of the cat food outside the house, and then deciding if it is too early in the day to have a drink.
We ran into a couple of little snags last year...the pictures went off great, got some good shots, dogs looked good, I didn't look too bad, etc...but the ride home proved to be a problem. David ended up sitting in the back seat with them because the front of my CRV is just too crowded with 2 people and 3 dogs. The original plan was for he and I to sit in the front and all the dogs to sit in the back...you know, like a family kind of. Nope. MY family wanted to sit in the front with me. So what we finally worked out was girls in the front, boys in the back. I drove and Rose and Daisy sat up front with me, David and Rudy and Bosco rode in the back. Bosco is part Lab and part Pointer and approximately pony-sized. He wanted to sit in David's lap. So David spent the first half of our journey trying to squirm out from under Bosco while little Rudy the lap-sized dachshund sat on the seat next to him. David spent the second half of our journey helpless as Bosco got carsick all over the backseat...and Rudy. This probably played a large part in the comment about finding new friends.
So this year we knew to be prepared and take some towels just in case. Last year, the only material we had with us was my suede coat which was no good because Bosco threw up all over it too. David got in the car and immediately started covering everything up with towels. Rudy apparently remembered last year too, and he was NOT getting in the backseat with Bosco. He planted himself firmly in the passenger seat with Daisy and refused to go anywhere near the backseat. So Rose got put back there. She doesn't get along that well with Bosco because he plays too rough and she is timid anyway and is scared of him. But she was the best choice. Daisy LOVES her Uncle David, and LOVES to give kisses and would have LOVED to be in the back with him. However, I may have mentioned that David cannot stand to be licked, and I didn't want him to jump out and run at the first red light. When we left the house, David was on one side of the backseat, Bosco was kind of all over the back seat, and Rose was on the other side. By the time we got about 3 miles from the house, Bosco was halfway in David's lap and it appeared from looking in the rearview mirror that there was a kind of shoving match going on. I couldn't tell who was winning but my money is always on Bosco having been the receipient of his shoves before. So we made it to the location without any major mishaps, and all got out of the car and into the building where there were numerous volunteers who all started taking dog's leashes. The way this works is that David wrangles Bosco and I get the rest. It about evens out.
So I got signed in and gave them my check and went around the partition to where the long-suffering, wonderfully patient Santa waited seated in a sleigh (or a plywood imitation of a sleigh). Well, the seat of the sleigh was completely covered with butts...and that was just me and Santa. I had Daisy in my arms, and from there it gets fuzzy. Bosco was going to sit at our feet...no options there since there was no room for him anywhere else. Rose was not interested in telling Santa what she wanted for Christmas, and in fact gave herself an early present and took off. The volunteers caught her and put her back in the sleigh and I think the way we ended up was that I had Daisy, Santa had Rudy, and Rose was being pulled back in from the side of the sleigh on her leash by Santa. All I could concentrate on was my anxiety about us having a good picture...usually I just trust the photographer to get the dogs to look and I sit and try to smile and remind myself that for 364 days a year I do whatever these dogs want, and it is not too much to ask for them to do something I want for one damn day. Usually there is not this much trouble getting them all settled. After several attempts, the photographer came over to me and showed me that there were a couple that she thought were good and said that she would print the best ones. I had paid for 2 sittings so I could also have one of the dogs with Santa...I have no idea what will come from that! I know while I was still in the sleigh, David was standing by the photographer laughing his head off. We finally either got done or the poor photographer conceded defeat and we left.
We got home with no shedding of bodily fluids (unlike the year that Daisy was a puppy and peed on Santa and my arm where I was holding her...good times, good times) and got into the house (Rudy only got a couple of mouthfuls of cat food and no mouthfuls of cat, thank goodness). It was too early to drink, so we went to do errands and I took David out to eat to thank him for his help. He really deserves a 5 star restaurant, but all I could afford was a dinner buffet at Golden Corral...
He tried to reassure me that he thinks there are some really good ones and that I will have a couple to pick from. I felt really uptight about it but I'm feeling better as time goes on. The one she showed me looked ok I guess...it was small on the back of a digital camera and of course I wasn't wearing my glasses...that's a story unto itself. I get to go pick the pictures up on Tuesday Nov 25, so I will have to find a way to scan them and post them here...