Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Macy's Christmas Windows are Alive!

Macy's Christmas windows are alive - literally!

Puppies and kittens, viewed by thousands of adoring shoppers, are having a Christmas adventure in festive, miniature gardens - all in the hope that they will be adopted and one day have a real Christmas home and family of their own.

This is the 22nd year the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have done Christmas Adoption Windows, and their fourth in Macy's at Union Square.

Judging from the crowds outside over the last week, they are the 'show of the month!'

So it is not surprising that these heart-touching pets who playfully rumble and tumble, stretch and snooze under public gaze are flying, if not off the shelves, then out of the windows!

To the delight of the SPCA, adoption numbers are so far higher this year than last despite the credit crunch.

By Wednesday of last week, 144 kittens and cats, and three dogs had been adopted compared to last year's 109. Santa on his daily bulletin was posting 165 by Friday, and following a busy weekend at midweek the number topped 200.

Yesterday that number had climbed to 208.

'I think there is a lack of feel-good stories out there and so much negative press going on with the struggles with the economy,' said Kiska Icard, Public Relations Officer.

'It is wonderful that people are coming out and adopting. It really seems to me people are getting back to the basics, spending time with family and animals.'

Other factors in adoption levels, she said, might be the use of live webcams, now in use for three years, and more publicity through news stories, the internet and word of mouth. The webcams have been upgraded this year to give quicker feeds and clearer pictures.

Part of the success of the windows can be attributed to the artistic decking out. There are Victorian house fronts with steps leading up to garlanded doors, greenery twined around pillars, twinkling lights in the hedgerow, silver tinsel and baubles and festive fountains.

Santa, with a toy ginger kitty perched on his shoulder, is there with his toy list, no doubt for all good puppies and kittens.

He is also busy with his letters! Large red postboxes stand at either end, overhead, letters are conveyed to him on a moving string and scattered over the floor are piles of hopeful, hand-written letters from children - all carefully read first by Santa!

There is also humour with stuffed animals. Santa has three majestic-looking reindogs, Comutt, Rudog and Cupet!

Other seasonally dressed dogs hold placards such as 'On my way to Santa Fe', 'These paws were made to travel', 'Picture me in Palm Springs' and 'California here I come.'

For the real puppies and kittens, there are comfortable resting spots, toys and temperature-controlled windows. A host of volunteers constantly pop in and out to check their well-being and volunteers are also on hand in the street.

Caryn, who works for the advertising company that represents the SPCA, just happened to be standing on the sidewalk.

'I think it's a wonderful thing that they are doing. They are far ahead of where they were last year with adoptions,' she said.

Byanka, an enthusiastic photographer with metallic-blue camera, was smitten with Mimi and Mac, a pair of tiny black Chow Chows mixed with either German Shepherd or labrador.

'They're so cute,' she said, 'I just want to take them home!'

She didn't really need to be asked if this method of advertising was effective. But answering the question, she said, "Yes, it works.'

Bubbly six-year-old Charlene was one of several children standing there. 'I think they're so cute,' she said, a pink toy rabbit clutched under her arm.

Does she have dog?

'My puppy is named Lucky,' she said, Lucky being a Malti-Poo, a cross between a Maltese and a Poodle.

And what does she want for Christmas?

'I'm looking forward to a little puppy that looks like both of those cute ones!' she said, captivated by the moment and proving Byanka's point of the effectiveness of this appeal to people's hearts.

Other heart-stealing pets on Wednesday were Kipper, a one-year-old ginger and white kitten, two five-month-old black and white kittens musically called Paul and Simon, two-month-old light-ginger kitten, Buster, and 18-month-old Melanie, a chihuahua mixed with pug.

Inside the store Donna was at an SPCA information desk next to a small room where more pets were on display in cages.

She was taking details of anyone wanting to adopt although, she said, puppies like Mimi and Mac are not ready to be adopted, so for those she was only taking applications.

Mimi and Mac's breed is uncertain at the moment. 'As they get bigger we're going to see what they look like. But at this age it's ambiguous,' she said.

'They are approximately two months old. They haven't had all their vaccinations and behaviour evaluations so it will be a little while before they go to a home.'

By the time the animals are ready to go, they will have been carefully medically and behaviorally screened, vaccinated, and spayed or neutered. Adopters will also be given 30 days of free pet health insurance, an advice DVD, dog leash and collar, a gift bag from sponsors of the windows and discounts on most SF/SPCA training classes.

Last year, 277 animals were adopted through the windows and about $37,000 raised in donations.

The SPCA started their Adoption Windows in 1986 at Gump's, another gift store nearby. This year they were unveiled by Dame Edna on November 21 and will run until New Year's Day. The animals are there for viewing from when the store opens to one hour before closing time.

Kristen Green, another Public Relations Officer, said the popularity of the animals stems from them being 'a gift the family is talking about and wants to welcome into their life - it's a gift that a family will have for many years, not a toy that you can be bored of in a day!

'It's so nice to be able to work with Macy's,' she added, 'and to see people's faces glowing. And the volunteers are so happy, it's so great to have them too.'

Pictured are Kipper with a volunteer; six-year-old Charlene; the windows at night; Mimi or Mac!

For more daytime pics click here

Nighttime Christmas windows, with a few extras

To view the live webcam:

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