Pet Photos 2018 draws everything from a tiny hedgehog to a medium-sized donkey

Santa, is your beard dirty or is that a hedgehog burrowing in it?

Yes, it’s Peanut the hedgehog, who then appeared to ask Santa for a cozy beard of his own.

Eli the donkey drew nothing but “awwwws” as his owner, Eric Hayes, brought him in to visit with Santa.

“Wait. There’s one more. Where should I put it? Now, stay.” And the 7 squirming pugs said, “Yeah, right!” (This photo by Jane Bernard)

But they pulled it off. Yes, there are 7 pugs in this photo. Look very closely. (This photo by Jane Bernard)

WNLP photos by Bob Wellinski, story by Beth Boardman

(Many more of Bob’s merry photos below story)

“Are you going tomorrow?” I asked Bob. “Are you kidding?” he replied. “It’s been on my calendar for a month!”

My longtime buddy and I love to cover the LaPorte County Small Animal Shelter’s Pet Photos with Santa each year. Everyone has one thing that draws out that first big holiday smile; for me, it’s Pet Photos.

In Part 1 of Pet Photos Dec. 8, you got your woofs, you got your meows, and if you waited long enough you got a hee-haw. And like every year, we got to witness shelter Director Jane Bernard make very strange trilling sounds to get the pets’ attention after they were situated on Santa’s lap (or nearby). Meanwhile her fellow shelter staffers stood by in case an escape from the set was at hand — not an unusual event. Professional photographer Sara Kessler once again took the pics this year.

One of the coolest and most rewarding things about this event: Many of the pets that walk through that door are shelter rescues — at some point in the past abandoned, cold, hungry, lost, or all of the above. My dog and cat came from the shelter. Bob’s dog came from the shelter. How can you not be grateful for the work these folks do and revel in seeing these animals so happy and well cared for?

Dec. 8 saw more than 100 pets and their people come to the Small Projects Building at the fairgrounds. Seems like everyone was grinning, even the pets, save for a disgruntled cat or two.

Eli the donkey rather reluctantly stood with Santa for a photo. It took about 5 people to gently shove him into place. Eli belongs to Eric Hayes, a longtime shelter staff member. Then came Peanut the hedgehog, which seemed to want to snuggle in Santa’s beard and stay there forever. And of course, the famous 7 squirming pugs. Try — just try — to get 7 pugs to stay on Santa’s lap, even for 5 seconds. One gets put up there, one jumps down. Two are facing forward, two backward, 3 sideways. It truly is like herding cats and it’s a hoot to watch. Jane said the pugs are owned by a Michigan family; they’re not breeders, they just like pugs. Another highlight was Macaroni the cat, who gamely tolerated being dressed in full Santa regalia, even hat. But Macaroni respectfully voiced his disapproval throughout the photo shoot.

And then all the dogs. Big dogs, tiny dogs, all spiffed up for their closeups and excited to meet one another if just for a few moments.

Part 2 is Dec. 15

You and your pets still have a chance to join in the fun and maybe win some prizes during Part 2 of Pet Photos Saturday, Dec. 15. It’ll be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the fairgrounds’ Small Projects Building. For just $10, you’ll instantly get a print of your pet with Santa (humans can jump in the picture, too), as well as a pet goodie bag. And the Dec. 15 event will also feature the Holiday Pet Photo Extravaganza, featuring about a dozen booths displaying pet merchandise or services. A raffle will also take place.

As always, all proceeds will help our outstanding shelter team continue to save the lives of four-footed creatures and find them good homes.

For more information, call the shelter at 326-1637.

A golden and a collie ask politely for their complimentary treats after getting their photo taken.

“Are all these for me?”

Eric Hayes brings his rather reluctant donkey, Eli, toward Santa while a collie looks on and thinks, “That’s sure a funny looking dog.”

Macaroni the cat tolerated the hat, the outfit, and even sitting with Santa without incident. However, he exercised his fundamental right to say a few things during the process.

This dog climbs higher for a full view of the event.

Photographer Sara Kessler readies for that perfect second as the shelter’s Eric Hayes and Jane Bernard get their aerobic exercise trying to entice the pup.

Big guy. Little pooches.

Sometimes it takes a village to corral a pup. Here two of his young companions and Santa try to persuade him to pose.

No comments.

Leave a Reply