Four-legged get their chance to meet Santa
Wren is a 14-year-old boxer and Australian shepherd mix who is mostly blind and can’t hear well.
But that didn’t stop her from snuggling with owner Jason Mitchell next to Santa Claus last week at the Quincy Animal Shelter.
“What do you want for Christmas?” Santa asked the old girl, who looked his way with a curious expression. “Just a treat, huh?”
That’s all it took for the round man in red and white to make yet another animal friend. A dozen dog owners brought their pets to the shelter on Dec. 4 during the afternoon for holiday photos, which will appear on the shelter’s website.
Mitchell acknowledged that Wren is getting along in years, and he wanted to capture what might be her last Christmas with a festive photo. He wiped away a few tears as he talked about his old friend.
“I’ve lost critters in my life,” Mitchell said. “When I got Wren, she always followed me right from the start. If she sees a cat, she’ll look at me like she’s saying, ‘Dad, can I?’ I tell her ‘ignore’ and she does.”
He stroked Wren’s head and added, “I treat dogs and cats like children.”
The shelter staff provided hot chocolate and donuts for humans, and tennis balls and small packs of treats for dogs. The setting even included a fireplace for Santa to sit beside – a creation by shelter Director Rachel Lewis, who used boxes covered with wrapping paper and created flames made from red and yellow construction paper.
She explained that they missed the opportunity in October to celebrate the one-year anniversary in the new city building at 213 Sixth Ave. N.E.
“So we decided to invite Santa and make it special,” Lewis said. “We had two-legged and four-legged kids show up.”
A steady stream of animal lovers came through the door. There was Amy Kissler’s part Chihuahua and Jack Russell terrier named Rocky, whose lifetime mission is chasing tennis balls. Later, Ricardo Montano brought his 4-year-old dachshund mix Stitch in for a photo.
Some of the dogs regarded Santa warily, but most took the unusual sight in stride. Santa’s big white beard, cap and heavy coat eventually proved too warm, so he took a break and removed his beard and long locks for a few minutes.
“I’m not used to having hair,” he said with a chuckle while running a hand across his bald head.
The shelter found homes for 105 animals in October, which was a monthly record.
“We were crazy busy,” Lewis said.
Quincy’s shelter has a no-kill policy, and the adoption fees for dogs and cats include first vaccinations along with spaying or neutering.
A total of 678 animals found homes this year through the shelter. Staff members interview potential owners about their lifestyle and facilities at home to make sure pets are placed in appropriate situations.
“I just want them to go to the right place,” Lewis said.
More adoption information is available by calling 509-787-8010 or going to the shelter website at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— By Steve Kadel, email@example.com