It has been a holiday season loaded with bleak headlines.
But if the news has you down, you’ll find a warm and fuzzy respite here for the next dozen days: The Star’s “12 Strays of Christmas” will introduce you to dogs and cats, puppies and kittens looking for a home for the holidays and beyond.
Four animal shelters — Great Plains SPCA, Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, KC Pet Project and Wayside Waifs — provided the pooches and kitties, and their employees and volunteers helped us coax winning poses from the subjects. (During one shoot, Rachel Hodgson of Great Plains SPCA did jumping jacks behind the photographer to get a dog’s attention.)
Also invaluable: toys (squeaky and otherwise), treats and peanut butter on a wooden spoon, a big hit with dogs.
Along with Star photographer Allison Long’s holiday-themed portraits, we’ll tell you a little about each day’s dog or cat and, of course, which shelter is caring for that animal.
Between now and Dec. 20, look for the series in The Star’s features sections (including FYI, Food, Preview and Star Magazine) and on KansasCity.com.
Remarkably, all the “Strays” made it out of the Star building without being adopted on the spot. No animal escaped without a bunch of petting and cooing.
One more thing: Although it can be tempting to surprise a loved one with a pet under the tree, most shelters would rather you not do that.
It’s not that they don’t want you to adopt. Lots of animals are available, and many shelters will be offering reduced-fee specials as we get closer to Christmas.
Just don’t make it a surprise. Take family members to meet prospective pets. Often shelters will even let you bring along a dog you already have so Fido can weigh in, too.
As we heard more than once during the photo shoots, the adoption process is all about making the right match.
If you still like the idea of a surprise gift, consider a letter from Santa (who, having decided a kid is ready for a pet, gives directions to the shelter where that pet can be found). Some shelters offer gift certificates. A stuffed animal could stand in for the real thing until the recipient visits a shelter.
Also, keep in mind that the holiday season can be the best of times or the worst of times for adopting a four-legged friend.
On one hand, some of us get time off to spend at home welcoming a new pet. On the other, lots of houseguests and extra bedlam don’t make for an ideal settling-in process. And if you’re going out of town, you should delay getting a pet.
Happy holidays to you and yours. Get ready for 12 days of adorable overload.
DAY 1 | FIONA
This 2-year-old female German shepherd can be found at Great Plains SPCA’s Independence location. She’s very attentive, sweet, gentle and “just kinda happy-go-lucky,” shelter manager Jackie Lightle says. Fiona was picked up as a stray.
The adoptable dogs and cats you’ll meet in our “12 Strays of Christmas” series were provided by these four animal shelters:
▪ Great Plains SPCA, locations in Merriam and Independence, greatplainsspca.org, 913-831-7722 (Merriam), 816-621-7722 (Independence).
▪ Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, Kansas City, Kan., hsgkc.org, 913-596-1000.
▪ KC Pet Project, Kansas City, with adoption centers at Zona Rosa and Petco on 95th Street in Overland Park, kcpetproject.org, 816-513-9821.
▪ Wayside Waifs, south Kansas City, waysidewaifs.org, 816-761-8151.