Yesterday was an interesting experience. Stitching buddy AC is active in a greyhound rescue group that has Meet & Greets periodically at area PetSmart locations. During the holidays, PetSmart has weekend "Photo with Santa Paws" events worked by different animal charities who receive part of the procedes from photo sales.
Thursday evening, AC was bemoaning the fact that try as she might, she wasn't getting any volunteers to play Santa on Saturday when the greyhound group was to benefit from the photo sales. Without thinking it through, I volunteered for the task - having had no, zero, zilch experience playing Santa Claus, of course.
From Thursday evening to Saturday morning I had plenty of time to think about what I had gotten myself into. Visions of dog bites, cat scratches and blood and urine soaked Santa suits haunted me. Plus, who had had on that Santa suit last? Ewwww....
AC at Santa Paws event
The photo shoot was to go from 11am to 4pm. I arrived at the PetSmart location at about 10:45. I was shown to the employee break room and the Santa suit. Thankfully, the Santa suit was fresh in a dry cleaner's bag. I took the costume - pants, jacket, belt, wig, beard, hat, spats, glasses and gloves - to the ladies' room to change, praying no little kids wandered in and caught a cross-dressing Santa getting dressed.
The costume was heavy, hot and ill fitting. The belt was way too big, even on the last notch; I could have used a pillow. The beard and wig were scratchy. This was going to be a long five hours.
When I walked out to the photo area, there was a line of folks ready and excited for their photos. Everyone was in a great and festive mood. This really did a lot to boost my spirts and lose my jitters. I tried a deep, "Ho! Ho! Ho!" but soon gave up because I sounded more like the Jolly Green Giant than Santa. Beside, the dogs didn't care and the owners didn't either since they just wanted cute photos of their pets and couldn't care less about whether Santa was a man or a woman.
The first dog up was Lucy, a short haired dog of undetermined breed that was absolutely determined that she was going to lick me to death. She pulled down the beard by stepping (nay, dancing) in it, tried to eat my nose, licked my glasses and face and had me laughing in that way that only happens when a joyous dog attempts to love you to death. She finally calmed down, while I readjusted the beard, and we got a cute picture after all.
That pretty much set the tone for the day. We had French bulldogs, English bulldogs, a trio of HUGE basset hounds, boxers, boxer/Pit bull mixes, Shih Tsus, Lhasa Apsos, Yorkies, a Dorkie (a designer-dog mix Yorkie + Dachshund), poodles, a Weimaraner named Grover that had just won the doggie lottery and been rescued (that day) by a large and loving family. There was only one dog, a Shelty named Unitus, that was a flop. He just wasn't in the mood to have his picture made. His owner said she had shopping to do and would try later; we never saw her again.
I got tickled at one of the owners. She was a real take-charge sort of gal and her dog was a Lhasa Apso (whose name I don't recall). She put the dog up on the platform next to me and began fussily arranging the dog's holiday collar, the position of her paws. As soon as she was satisfied with the dog, she began on me: fluffing the beard just so, arranging the pom-pom on the hat, tucking in whisps of hair, even arranging how my hands were positioned. I had to fight laughing at this. It really was a hoot and was all I needed to see to know this gal got what she wanted. All. The. Time.
At the end of the session, we'd raised over $125 dollars for the greyhound charity. This was impressive since the weather went to hell shortly after we got started and it was cold and windy with a hard rain for most of the day. I got to meet a lot of great dogs and some great owners, too. When I was returning the Santa suit to the employee break room, there were some cashiers who said all the photos that came through their lines were cute. That made me feel good and that the discomfort of the beard and wig (the worst part of the costume) was worth it.
Pookie braved the weather to come see me. Said he wouldn't miss it for the world. :)