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HO, HO, HO, MERRY CRITTERS!

Byline: Jim Feehan The Register-Guard

I saw Zoe kissing Santa Claus.

There was no mistletoe in sight Sunday, and Zoe was a 4-month-old Welsh Corgi and wire-haired terrier mix. Perched on Santa's lap, Zoe surprised St. Nick with a peck on the nose.

"He just likes men in red suits," said Janelle Douglass of Springfield, whose mother, Debi Douglass, owns the affectionate pooch. The Douglasses were among about 100 pet owners whose animals had a "photo op" with Santa on Sunday at the Greenhill Humane Society.

For $12, visitors and their pets received a sitting with Santa and a digital photo suitable for framing. For an additional $5, they could have the photos posted online.

Proceeds from the two-day fund-raising event, which included a raffle of a pet gift basket, will go toward feeding and caring for Greenhill's animals, said Theresa Iverson, shelter manager.

Attendance more than doubled from last year's event, which drew fewer than 50 people over three weekends, organizers said.

A menagerie of pets, including several dogs, a cat, a guinea pig, two rabbits and a hamster, lined up to be photographed with Santa. But St. Nick drew the line when it came to a pet snake.

Waiting patiently in line was Karen Creighton of Eugene, who brought along Wilbur, a 9-month-old hamster, and Picasso, a border collie and blue heeler mix. She decided not to bring her orange tabby, Mr. Daisy, because of his penchant for eating hamsters.

"He's my killer kitty. But I must say the dog is very protective of the hamsters and tries to ward off the cat," Creighton said.

Santa cradled Wilbur in a white-gloved hand while Picasso and Creighton nudged next to Kris Kringle on a small sofa. Two of Santa's helpers used a squeaky toy and a clicker to help them strike a pose.

"I'm going to e-mail the photo to relatives because I'm always talking about my animals," Creighton said.

Eric Potter of Springfield already has plans for his photos of Santa and his two dogs - Buster, a 7-year-old dachshund-Yorkshire terrier mix, and Junior, a 2-year-old Jack Russell-Pekingese mix.

"It will be our Christmas card; after all, they're our kids," he said.

Santa would not divulge if the pets were naughty or nice this year, but he did tell some of his more unusual requests.

"The cats asked for catnip. One dog asked for a cat to chase, but that's not appropriate," Santa said. "And the hamster, he asked for a big bag of carrots."

CAPTION(S):

"Zoe" surprises Santa with a kiss on the nose Sunday at Greenhill Humane Society during a portrait session.
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Title Annotation:Holidays; Pet owners take up Greenhill Humane Society on the offer of a photo of their "kids" with St. Nick
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Dec 13, 2004
Words:436
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