For the perfect Christmas card, pose your pet with Santa

By Mary Ann Albright, Columbian Staff Reporter

Published:

 

Places to have your pet’s photo taken with Santa:

Where: Beastie Boutique, 13023 N.E. Highway 99, Suite 8, Vancouver.

• When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 11.

• Cost: $5 for a 4-by-6 photo and holiday frame. The money goes to Second Chance Companions, a nonprofit pet adoption and referral organization based out of Battle Ground.

• Information: http://www.beasti..., 360-574-6400.

Where: Various PetSmart shops.

• When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 11, 12, 18 and 19.

• Cost: $9.95 with PetPerks savings card for a photo and holiday frame. $5 of that goes to local charities that support pet adoption.

• Information: http://www.petsma...

Where: Various Petco shops.

• When: 1-4 p.m. Dec. 11.

• Cost: $8.95 for a photo, holiday card and envelope. The money goes to the Petco Foundation, a nonprofit that supports various animal welfare organizations.

• Information: http://www.petco....

• Where: Naturally Healthy Pet, 335 N.E. Fifth Ave., Camas.

• When: 4-7 p.m. Dec. 16.

• Cost: $15 for a 5-by-7 print. $5 of that goes to Second Chance Dogs, a nonprofit canine rescue, rehabilitation and placement organization based out of Chehalis.

• Information: http://www.natura..., 360-609-3505.

Pets are part of the family in many households, so who better to feature on your Christmas cards? Whether scrambling to put together this year’s holiday missive or planning ahead for Christmas 2011, now is a good time to get an awww-worthy photo of your four-legged friend with Santa.

Several pet shops throughout Clark County are offering Santa photo sessions this weekend and throughout the month. They include Petco and PetSmart locations, as well as Beastie Boutique in Salmon Creek and Naturally Healthy Pet in Camas.

Those retailers all accept walk-ins for Santa photos, and at least a portion of the money raised goes to pet-related charities. While dogs are by far the most common subject, the photographers welcome all small pets.

It’s also possible to take a good holiday pet photo at home, said Misty Briggs of Ridgefield, owner of the photography business A Touch of Flash (http://www.atouchofflash.net, 916-276-7726).

Briggs will be taking photos at Beastie Boutique on Dec. 11. She realizes, though, that some people’s pets get nervous in crowds, so home photos could be a good alternative to studio shots.

To do it yourself, borrow a Santa suit, then grab a camera, nuzzle Fido or Fluffy into Saint Nick’s lap and start snapping pictures. Santa isn’t even necessary for cute holiday pet photos, though. Lots of pet shops sell reindeer antlers and Santa hats this time of year that make for adorable photos, Briggs said.

When it comes to editing home photos, Briggs suggests the website http://www.picnik.com. People can edit images and even add holiday borders. Many of the site’s functions are free, though Picnik Premium costs $24.95 per year.

Whether you’re taking the photos yourself or having a professional studio session, there are some tips for helping to ensure that your pet cooperates. Here are some tricks of the trade from Briggs and from Camas photographer Lisa Kuhlman of Windows on Life Photography (http://www.windowsonlife.com, 360-901-4639), who will be taking photos at Naturally Healthy Pet on Dec. 16:

1. Use a harness.

Briggs suggests hooking your dog’s leash to a harness instead of the collar when taking a trip to the pet store for photos. This way, if your pup gets excited and starts pulling at its leash, it won’t be harmful to the neck and windpipe.

2. Allow ample time.

There could be a bit of a wait.

“You have to be patient,” Briggs said.

3. Grab a favorite squeaky toy or treat.

Pet photographers usually have these, but bringing a favorite one from home might help convince your pet to look at the camera long enough to get a few good shots.

“That usually gets their attention,” Kuhlman said.

4. Coo a familiar word or phrase.

“With my dog, you can say, ‘Treat,’ and his ears will perk up and he tilts his head and he’s perfect for the picture,” Kuhlman said.