Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Everyone has their holiday traditions. Some light the Yule log, some kiss under the mistletoe, some enjoy a nice fruitcake. I have my own special holiday tradition that makes most people think I’m a fruitcake. Tucked away on the Wednesday photo calendar was a one-line entry. It simply said, “Dressing the Dog 2008”.

Of all the visits I make to the Tracy Animal shelter through the year this is my favorite. Amid the gnarling teeth, angry growls and hatred of my camera by anything with paws is a special Pet of the Week photo. Once a year a dog is dressed up in the Christmas spirit for a picture.

Oh sure you see the occasional dog walking the street in some oversized sweater, or even spy a poodle in a raincoat if the weather turns wet. But we are not limited to such mundane garb, we have vast wardrobe at our disposal. Santa ties, Santa hats, mittens and bells will decorate or dog. And for the first time we will add a string of Christmas lights for that ultimate holly-jolly look.

Arriving at the animal shelter I find that this year’s photo will sport a pair of pooches. Joy of joys, two dogs for the price of one! One is a little wiener dog looking fellow and the other one was a, umm he is a…heck it doesn’t matter what he is, we’re stringing Christmas lights on him!

Oh one thing though. I find out that the entire Tracy Police department command staff is on their way to the shelter to tour the facility with the candidates for police chief. Some photographers shine under such pressure, some dig down deep to work harder and faster. Others like me just say crap, crap, crap, crap over and over (ok so it wasn’t exactly the word crap I was saying). Anyhow the Christmas lights aren’t getting any dimmer, the dogs are ready and I am ready so let’s start decorating those dogs!

So in past years you see some dogs just won’t go along with the whole getting dressed up idea. They squirm, they fidget, and they plead for mercy. But still the mittens must go on. This year’s pair seemed oblivious to their holiday outfits. They put up little fight as neckties and hats were strapped into place. No one even seemed to mind their matching red mittens.

So just about the same time we started to get the dogs into the outfits the bus filled with police department brass arrived. Now I was under the gun so to speak. The shoot took a definite up- tempo feel. We plunked the pair in their Christmas finest down and went about stringing the lights.

Now it just isn’t like stringing lights on a Christmas tree. How many times have you seen a tree with paws and tail? Even worse how many trees squirm around the floor as you try to get the lights around them? The shelter workers managed to get the dogs set with a couple of loose wraps of lights which also had the advantage of tying them close together. I had a brief bout of panic with the thought of the dogs being electrocuted by a short in the light string just as a police lieutenant walks through the door. My emergency plan was to have a fire extinguisher handy and alibi in place.

So with everything in place and a soft multicolored glow coming form the dogs I started to take their pictures. Now usually the pet of the week contestant is less than cooperative. They jump, spin and posture their posterior before my camera in attempt to try my patience. But my pair of Christmas dogs is quiet and cooperative. Maybe they understand the true meaning of Christmas is peace on earth, goodwill toward me. Or perhaps the utter shame of wearing mittens and Christmas lights has sapped their will to move. Either case I quickly snap my pictures before the tour group heads into the office.

So with a round of high fives and belly rub for my canine models this year’s Dressing the Dog slips into holiday history. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!


jam said...

A very sweet dog--available for adoption? If so, where?

Excitement P said...

That is GREAT! I love the pics. I looked forward to this all day....

Jon Mendelson said...

one of the best blogs so far...

the animals are available at the Tracy Animal Shelter, 370 Arbor Road, and it's open noon to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. For information: 831-6364.

jam said...

I live in Oregon. Is this in CA? Bay Area or SOCA?