Four-legged creatures flock

(Kimberly Carrillo/Tribune Staff Photographer) Santa greets Shelby, Jeanette Peterson’s pooch, during a pet event at Chandler Fashion Center.

Squeaky toys. Bones. Treats. Not the typical items you’d expect on a Christmas list for Santa.

That’s because these are Santa’s four-legged friends.

The furballs went to see Santa recently at the Chandler Fashion Center to get a leg up on their Christmas wish list. In between a lot of sniffing, the well-behaved canines were drooling over Santa, showering him with lots of kisses!

Luckily for Santa, the dogs he has seen have been on the “nice” list. They haven’t had an accident, at least on him.

“Never had that happen,” said Santa. “They’re pretty good most of the time. I know they get scared and you’d think they’d do that but haven’t had that yet.”

While Santa took a moment to “paws” for photos with pooches, he said most of their masters ask for one thing. “Most of the time they want food for them.”

Typically, it’s the smaller breeds that come to sit on Santa’s lap. “It’s really funny to see all of the animals. I really enjoy ‘em.”

In line first to see Santa was Juno, a 2-year-old Jack Russell Terrier/Queens-land mix and Milo, a 12-year-old Parson Russell Terrier.

The pets posed for a photo with the newest member of the family, Adalyn, along with her parents.

“It’s her first Christmas,” said Ronica Holsinger. “She’s only 8 months old, so we wanted to do a whole family get-together with the dogs and her.”

As far as what Juno and Milo want for Christmas? “Probably just bones and squishy toys,” said Holsinger. “And treats.”

Up next were a pair of Huskies. Dakota and Angel are 3½-year-old brothers who had visited Santa twice before. Posing for a photo with them were their human brothers, Dillon Garcia, 14, and Lucas, 13.

Their mother, Debbie Garcia, said that for Christmas, “they would like some treats and some new bones, some really hard bones because they can chew through anything.”

Dakota and Angel, no doubt, already are set for Christmas morning. “They have stockings,” said Debbie. “They go right for them. They open their stockings and they get some presents. They’re very spoiled.”

Waiting in the wings were 8-year-old Bella, a Yorkie, and 3-year-old Chloe, a Golden Retriever.  They come every year to get their picture with Santa.

“They love to sit and get it,” said owner Mary Rudd. “It’s a tradition and they love coming up here. We used to do this with our kids when they were little so now we do it with the dogs.”

The pooches want fun stuff from Santa. Forget the collars and leashes.

“Chloe likes toys, stuffed toys, so she probably wants those,” said Rudd. “And Bella just likes to relax and lay around, so she’s really not into toys that much.”

At first glance, 4-year-old pitbull Cayne looked like a dog you might not want to mess with. But he turned out to be a teddy bear at heart and got along with Santa quite well.

He posed for a photo with Kim Curtis and her husband and 3-year-old Jordan.

“He’s a great dog,” said Curtis, who likes to spoil Cayne, especially on Christmas. “We go to the dog bakeries and give him some stuff. He has his own stocking.”

Sniffing their way next to Santa’s lap were 6-year-old Binkie, a Pomeranian/King Charles Spaniel and 13-year-old Bailey, all decked out in a Santa’s suit.

“We got them as puppies so we raised them wearing clothes,” said Shyonna Leach. “We never got them used to shoes but clothes they can do. We actually would put Bailey in my T-shirts when I was in middle school. She’s used to it.”

Binkie and Bailey definitely get into the Christmas spirit.

“They love opening presents even if there’s nothing inside of the present because it’s not for them,” said Leach. “They get stockings and Christmas presents. They’ll help us open our Christmas presents because they think it’s for them.”

The most boisterous of the night was 5-year-old French bulldog Shelby, who apparently was barking up the wrong Christmas tree.

After a few minutes sitting next to Santa, Shelby had enough.

While this photo session was limited to animals with fur, Santa has been left scratching his head over some pets that people have brought in.

“I’ve had one of those big yellow and white snakes on me before,” said Santa. “I don’t know what they’re called. They wrap all around and stuff. Why not? I’m not going anywhere. It’s not going anywhere. Might as well sit here and talk about it.”

But what could a snake want for Christmas?

“I don’t know what a snake wants for Christmas,” Santa chuckles. Maybe a rat? “We’ll start with a mouse and work our way up,” Santa added.

Santa also has seen a few lizards. “Glad no one has brought any Gila monsters.”

People have even brought in insects. “I have had a spider in a box.” At least it wasn’t poisonous. “They’re really good. They don’t bite or anything.”

Believe it or not, Santa actually had an otter visit him once.

“The only thing I don’t like are those ferrets,” Santa said. “They just stink. I don’t think you can wash the smell out of those things. I’ll hold them and all that. I don’t care. Those are the only ones that are not pleasurable.”

Overall, it’s a fun break from the two-legged humans who regularly visit, he said.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Santa said. “I love animals. I have no problem with it. I don’t care what they are.”

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