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Collingwood's shelter dogs meet Father Christmas today

The photos are right off a Christmas card, or they will be once they are printed and packaged as a Christmas fundraiser for the GTHS.
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Omi is a new intake at the Georgian Triangle Humane Society from a high-kill shelter in New Mexico. He's one of the dogs that will be featured on the GTHS Christmas card collection coming out in November. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

Animals and staff at the Georgian Triangle Humane Society (GTHS) got into the Christmas spirit today for a cozy photo shoot with Father Christmas.

Some of the dogs and cats up for adoption hopped up onto a lush bench draped in a white fur throw to pose with Jolly Old St. Nick in front of a warm fireplace backdrop.

The photos are right off a Christmas card, or they will be once they are printed and packaged as a Christmas fundraiser for the GTHS.

Father Christmas is Derk Steenblik, a resident of the Hamilton area who has been donning his bell hat and long coat for seven years in support of animal rescue.

He walked into a pet store eight years ago where he saw a “bean-pole, 19-year-old” wearing a cheap Santa suit and cotton batting beard advertising pet photos with Santa and thought, “people deserve better.”

The next year, he approached the manager of the store, who directed him to the local shelter responsible for the pet photo with Santa fundraiser. He stepped in as Father Christmas and has been doing it ever since.

He has worked with a Hamilton-based seamstress to create his costume. He chose the fabric and design concept and she did the custom work to make his dream a reality.

Steenblik has 11 photo sessions this year, including another one in Collingwood, which has become an annual tradition.

Steenblik – as Father Christmas – will be at Dogs We Love at 10 Keith Ave. in Collingwood on Dec. 1 and 2 for pet photos from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. He recommends making an appointment as the spots fill up quickly.

Photos are by donation, but there’s a minimum of $15 per pose for a digital print. Steenblik also asks the photographer to volunteer. This year all the proceeds will be donated to the GTHS, Finding them Homes James Bay Pawsitive Rescue and My Friend's House Pet Safe Relocation Program. 

He said last year the Collingwood fundraiser brought in $3,000 in donations.

Today, the photographer was Jen Worrall of Gotcha photo studio. She regularly shoots photos for the GTHS of their rescue animals, and has taken the images for the GTHS Christmas Card series this year.

The Christmas cards will be available for purchase on Nov. 1 at the GTHS shelter building and Treasure Tails.




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