The four well-behaved pups were taken to the Santa Paws grotto, which has been launched by John Lewis and is specifically designed around a dog’s dream Christmas space
It’s not just little ones and families that are excited to meet Santa this Christmas – as these adorable photos show guide dog puppies in training also enjoying a special moment with the big man.
The well-behaved pups were treated to a rare day off, and taken to a unique, festive grotto, specially tailored towards a dog’s dream Christmas.
The four hard-working canines had the chance to experience some new sights, smells, and sounds of Christmas that they had not yet come across in their training – as well as getting an official photo with Santa, and taking home a dog-friendly gift.
The Santa Paws experience has been launched by John Lewis in nine of its stores across the country, giving dogs who have made the nice list the opportunity to have a little festive fun of their own.
One of the future life-changing puppies, who made the trip to the Cambridge shop, is golden retriever Timber, aged seven months, who will hopefully qualify as a guide dog around this time next year.
He was joined by Bailey, another golden retriever, who at just six months old is already making leaps and bounds with his puppy training.
Louise Black, from John Lewis, said: “We all know Santa has his naughty and nice list every year – but it goes without saying which one these pups will fall into.
“When we decided to launch the Santa Paws grotto, we knew we wanted to give some of the nation’s hardest-working pups a chance to experience some festive magic, and be part of a beloved Christmas tradition – meeting Santa. We were thrilled to welcome so many into the store today.”
Puppies start their training from as early as eight weeks old, when they transition to the care of a volunteer puppy raiser. Here, they are introduced to the world around them, experiencing all the different sights, sounds, smells, and different situations that will help them become confident young adults.
Their formal training begins at around 14 months of age, at one of Guide Dogs’ centres. Accompanied by skilled trainers, and cared for by dedicated dog wellbeing staff, they go through a comprehensive curriculum, learning 37 key behaviours.
This includes learning skills and responses to verbal, visual, and environmental cues, all taught through marker training.
Haley Andrews, head of puppy raising at Guide Dogs, added: “As these dedicated guide dogs in training approach the culmination of a year filled with hard work, their unwavering commitment deserves a pause for celebration.
“While the journey has been filled with purpose, training, and transformation, these extraordinary canines also deserve to share in the festive joy.
“Just like us, they too bask in the magic of the season, taking a well-deserved break to embrace the holiday spirit and, perhaps, share a moment with Santa – a delightful reward for their dedication to a life-changing mission.”
Four-legged companions can explore the grotto, get a professional picture with Santa, and take home a gift from pet brand Rosewood.
The experience is available at John Lewis shops in Cambridge, Cheadle, Cribbs Causeway, High Wycombe, Liverpool, Oxford Street, Peter Jones, Southampton, and Welwyn Garden City – and tickets can be booked here.