Animal shelter's Santa has tails to tell

Children often know about Santa and actually want to meet him.

Dogs, though, aren't so sure about the big guy in the bright red suit.

Toby the pug sat still for a second, then launched an upward squirm, bounding away. Volunteers put down their squeaky toys and scooped up Toby for another try.

This time, thanks to some quick shooting, Toby's "Santa Claws" photo was snapped.

Around 65 families stopped by the Seattle Animal Shelter yesterday to get a $15 photo of their pet with Santa. The shelter expected to raise around $1,000 from the event.

"We do this every year," said Suzy Scott, who brought her two dogs straight from the groomer.

Dusty climbed right up on the sofa and licked Santa's face. Scott coaxed Gabriel up on the other side of Santa, who wrapped his arms around their necks and held on tight — but just for an instant.

Scott will give the picture to her parents. "Yeah — my kids have four legs," she said.

Puccini, adopted from a Beverly Hills animal shelter, arrived in an elf costume, complete with a little red elf hat. Owner Lauren Formicola was happy to get the Santa photos done professionally. When she took them on her own, posing the costumed Puccini in Pioneer Square, it turned out to be an expensive hassle.

"It took like $1,000 to make four cards," she said.

Being Santa to the dogs isn't as easy as it sounds.

"It's less actually playing Santa and more grabbing dogs," said Greg Ullrich, decked out in an insulating Santa costume that left little lap room. "There's hardly any time to talk with them."

Sarah Anne Wright: or 206-464-2752.