The dogs were primped, pampered and posed like fashion models before their big moment in front of the camera. A pair of matching, elegant-looking pups decked out with black velvet and rhinestone collars looked like they should belong to the Kardashians. 

About 100 dogs got their pictures taken with Santa Claus by a professional pet photographer at Dogma Gourmet Dog Bakery and Boutique in Arlington, Virginia. From large Golden Retrievers to pint-sized Chihuahuas, the pups were dressed for the holidays.

“I like the ones where you can see the interaction where the dog looks like he’s having a conversation quietly with Santa,” said professional pet photographer, Jeannie Taylor. “They’re part of the family. They should have their Santa photos, just as they should be part of family photos.”

“It’s fun, it’s festive and making memories,” said Sheena Cole who came with her Corgi to the annual event.

Annual event for some

Some people bring their dogs every year, including Brian Rose who arrived with two Schnauzers he calls his kids. 

“We get the girls dressed up in their little ribbons and see all the other dogs in their costumes,” he said.

They included canines wearing a Santa hat or dressed as elves. Alycia Foley wanted the Santa picture with her bulldog Quincy to reflect both Christmas and Hanukkah. 

“I put a yamaka and scarf on him for Hanukkah because I’m Jewish. I celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah, so I wanted him to celebrate both.”

Money to charities

A large portion of the $25 cost for each photo is donated to several local dog rescue groups. Zach Klipple with Vindictive Pit Bull Rescue said the money goes to buy items like food, toys, crates and kennels.

​Many of the dogs at the event were rescues. Melinda Thalor, who calls herself a pet grandparent, asked her daughter’s rescue dog, “to show me your smile.” 

“The support this event gives to the animals is wonderful. We’ve always had rescue dogs and they’re the best kind,” Thalor said.

Say ‘cheese’

During the photo shoots it was a challenge to get the dogs to stay still, so Taylor and her assistant used innovative ways to get their attention, which seemed to do the trick.

“We make sounds that are out of the norm of their daily routine — high pitch squeaky toys, and weird noises with our mouths,” Taylor explained.

While some dogs enjoyed the attention, others tried to make a bolt for the door.

“Let’s get out of here,” said Santa laughing, reflecting on what the dogs must be thinking.

Santa knows

Jim Greer, who for years has played Santa for both children and dogs, said the pups can be like kids, too.

“Some of them will jump up in your lap. Others will run away from you. I get one once in a while that will bark at me. I’ve been nipped at a couple of times, but I haven’t been bitten, and hopefully we can keep it that way,” he said and laughed.

Penny Edwards and her 3-year-old daughter came in their matching pajamas, along with their brown-and-white dog named Blue. The little girl told Santa what she would like for Christmas, and said Blue told Santa he wanted cheese and a ball. 

Pet parent Amy Kessler is looking forward to sending Christmas cards with her cute white dog’s photo to friends and family.

“He’s so happy and smiling and it cheers everyone up, I think, to see a little pup with Santa,” she said with a smile. 


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