"On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me..." - a dog?
Yes, it's again that cheerful time of year.
Where potential four-legged friends walk Main Street for people to meet and greet.
Doggy treats apply.
With the biggest treat of all being a new home.
The "12 Strays of Christmas" is upon us.
A Cortez Animal Shelter fundraiser, the 12 Strays of Christmas is an adoption event that celebrates the holidays in true canine fashion.
And fashionable, these kind canines are indeed.
The delightful dogs strut their stuff in Christmas clothing for 12 days, or at least until every dog becomes an adopted pet and finds a new loving home.
"Some of those people work 9 (a.m.) to 5 (p.m.), too. They don't get a chance to come out and see us here, see the animals," said Cortez Animal Shelter Kennel Supervisor Jennifer Crouse. "This way, the animals come to them. They get to see them. It helps all the way around. Not just the animals, but the people."
Reindeer antlers, sweaters, bows, bells and Santa hats? These cute canines wear them all, but they don't wear it out. All 13 sponsored dogs were adopted in last year's inaugural event. With the success of the 2011 "12 Strays of Christmas," the Cortez Animal Shelter decided to make the fundraiser an annual one.
"It was great for the city," Crouse said. "We want to make it a yearly event, hopefully, featuring different dogs."
Each animal is sponsored by a person or business at $25 apiece. Different dogs each day walk downtown along Main Street during the business lunch hour for people young and old to see.
Instead of walking with a chip on their shoulder, these merry mutts wear their name and sponsorship on their sleeves with glee. There were 19 sponsors last year and Crouse expects more this time around. The first of the proverbial 12 days began Monday and every dog must go - to a new home.
"It makes it a better chance of the animals getting adopted when the public sees them away from the shelter," Crouse said. "Everybody said last year how wonderful it was. That's all we got, was positive feedback, and how much people liked seeing the dogs downtown and how happy they were."
The Cortez Animal Shelter buys the canine clothes from donations and folks also donate some outfits for the event. Shelter employees design some of the sponsorship signs, or sponsors may indulge their creativity and come up with their own 8 1/2 by 11 inch sign.
Crouse expects the 12 Strays of Christmas to continue to grow and hopes it balloons into a community event with the Humane Society and other animal centers.
"Maybe on down the road, we can do a couple weeks worth," Crouse said. "Other animal people can join in. Maybe other communities will latch onto the idea. People can also volunteer to walk the dogs."
So, how did the 12 Strays of Christmas begin?
Cortez Journal writer and photographer of the Pet of the Week feature, Domino Hawks, suggested the program to the shelter after seeing similar programs in action at other animal centers, including the La Plata County Animal Shelter in Durango.
Everyone involved saw how animal centers in Durango were doing similar "pet adoption walks."
So, why not in Cortez?
"We took that idea and multiplied upon it, added to it our own ideas," said Crouse about the origin of 12 Strays of Christmas. "It was so well liked, we decided to keep doing it."
The 12 Strays of Christmas has indeed been well-received by Cortez.
After all, 'tis the season for giving.
What better way to celebrate the holidays than with a new lovable, loyal companion?