A Christmas grotto just for dogs sets up at Norwich’s Forum

Santa Paws meeting Dora the spaniel from Dogs for Therapy at the dog themed event outside the Forum,

Santa Paws meeting Dora the spaniel from Dogs for Therapy at the dog themed event outside the Forum, Norwich. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

'Ho ho ho' became 'woof woof woof' this weekend, as a very furry festive guest greeted people - and dogs - at The Forum.

For the third year in a row, The Forum, Norwich, welcomed Santa Paws to town, as it played host to a special grotto for dogs on Saturday.

Throughout the day, joyful Jack Russells, seasonal shih-tzus and sparkling spaniels were greeted by Santa Paws, the Father Christmas of the dog world, for photos, cuddles and treats, in support of the local branches of the RSPCA and Pets as Therapy.

The event was the vision of Jayne Evans, marketing manager of The Forum, a dog lover herself, who saw a similar event on her travels more than three years ago, and was determined to bring it to life in Norwich.

She said: 'We love our dogs in Britain, they're a part of our families and we want them to be involved in everything we do, so this was a great way to involve them in our Christmases.

'I'm slightly surprised by how much of a yearly highlight this has become. Part of me expected it to fizzle out after the first year, but it hasn't. I'm delighted by how many other dog mad eccentrics there seem to be in Norwich.'

She added: 'People give so generously at these events too; I've seen people putting notes instead of coins in the collection boxes and the fact that so many people have braved this dreadful weather to come along speaks volumes.'

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Despite the bitter cold and wet, Santa Paws, who this year was a labrador in sunglasses, greeted dozens of pooches, with the event also serving as an opportunity for Pets as Therapy to showcase their cause, as they appeal for more pet owners to volunteer their dogs for their service.

Jessica Miller, Pets as Therapy volunteer, who was at the event with her alsation Marley, said: 'Events like these are of huge importance to us, as they get us out there and make people aware of what it is we do.

'We're desperate for more dogs to help us do our work in the community, so if you have a calm dog who is good with people, we would love to hear from you.'

For more information on how your pet can help Pets as Therapy, contact 01844 345 445.

Do you and your pet do wonderful work in the community? Contact David Hannant on 01603 693892.