BANFF – It was the dog days of Christmas this weekend, as the Bow Valley SPCA held its first of two Christmas fundraisers offering furry friends the chance to get the purffect photo with Santa.
Participants had a pawsitively grand time and benefited from the event at the Banff Doghouse Sunday (Dec. 1), which volunteer photographer and SPCA chair of funding development Joseph Potts said is because the shelter can gain donations and owners have lasting memories of their pet cuddling with Jolly Old Saint Nick. He added the photos make the perfect Christmas card to share howliday cheer with friends and family.
“A lot of it is just seeing their dog or cat in a cute pose with Santa,” Potts said with a chuckle. “It’s like your kids – you can’t have too many cute shots of your dog or your cat.”
He looks forward to the fundraiser every year, Potts said, because it a great opportunity to meet new furry friends, and reconnect with animals who have been adopted from the SPCA.
“You get a chance to reunite,” Potts said. “It can be a dog I might have trained with and then suddenly they're back here with their owner. It’s quite nice.”
It can prove challenging corralling the animals so treats are ready to be shared, Potts said, adding that it can take time getting the lighting just right to make their puppy eyes pop and feline fur glimmer.
“We’re trying to get them as perfect as we can,” Potts said with a smile.
The SPCA has been hosting pet photos with Santa for approximately a decade, Potts said and began collaborating with the Banff Doghouse last year so they could add a second event.
“It’s donation-based, what we want to do is raise as much as we can but we don’t really set a goal,” Potts said. “We want to make it accessible to everybody – this allows somebody who doesn’t have a lot of money, but has a pet they want a picture of, to be able to get that.”
He added that it is an important event for the SPCA because while it helps with the funding of the shelter, it also helps foster community connections.
“We’re making sure that we're involved with the community and supporting the community in every kind of way we can think of,” he said. “Lots of volunteers do stuff for the SPCA and businesses have been really supportive, including Banff Doghouse – we enjoy being able to come over and do this.”
It was an exciting day at the Banff Doghouse because they had their first cat pay a visit to Santa. Potts said that the Carla Sojonky Adoption Centre will see around four or five cats stop by for photos over the holidays.
Maai Inoue brought her cat Rice Bowl and dog Pepper to get their first-ever photos with Santa to celebrate a furry and bright Christmas.
“This is a great opportunity,” Inoue said. “This Christmas is the first Christmas for Rice Bowl and Pepper is 14-years-old and we’ve never had a Santa photo – this was a great idea.”
Rice Bowl was on her best behaviour and seemed like she had fun, Inoue said, adding that Santa and his photographers made it an enjoyable experience for her pets.
Inoue said she enjoys looking at the shelter animal photos on the Bow Valley SPCA Facebook page and wanted to do what she could to celebrate the holiday while helping out animals in need.
“They are doing a wonderful job for the dogs and cats,” she said, explaining that she loves animals and saw the pet portraits as an opportunity to support the non-profit.
Banff Doghouse owner Ward Betke said the pet portraits with Santa are always a fun day at the store. He added that locals seem to appreciate the opportunity for the photoshoot.
“We did it last year and had a blast – it does get a little bit crazy … we have fun with the variety of dogs and people that come through,” he said. “We’re trying to make it an annual event.”
It is important to support the SPCA he said, adding that the last several dogs he and his wife have welcomed into their family have been adopted from rescues.
It feels good to offer support to the SPCA and Betke said he enjoys their partnership is continuing to grow.
“It just a really cool memory,” Betke said, explaining that he and his wife got their dog Nino’s photo with Santa. “It’s a memory we’ll have forever.”
The next pet portraits with Santa will be taking place at the Carla Sojonky Adoption Centre in Canmore on Saturday (Dec. 7) from noon-4 p.m. All proceeds raised by the photo with Santa go directly to supporting the Bow Valley SPCA.