LOCKPORT — Eight years ago, Arlene Wallace, a retired schoolteacher, began bringing her then-young dachshunds, Jenny and Gepetto, to visit her parents at Briody Health Care Center. Whenever a major holiday rolled around, she would dress up Jenny and Gepetto in seasonally-appropriate attire: bunny ears for Easter, red and blue stars for the Fourth of July and pumpkin hats for Halloween.
The residents loved it.
"It just gave some of them who didn’t ever get visitors something to smile about," Wallace said.
Four years later, Wallace retired from teaching special education classes at North Park Jr. High School and fulfilled a longtime dream. She moved onto eight and a half country acres in Wilson, built a small barn and bought two Nigerian dwarf goats.
Wallace brought them in on the dress-up games, as she did with Ziva, her husband's German shepherd. The costumes have become a mainstay of her holiday cards.
“We send holiday cards for friends, just to put a smile on people’s face,” Wallace said.
And the animals like it, too — mostly (probably only) because they have learned Wallace will give them a treat afterward.
"They've gotten pretty used to it — 'Oh, dear, here comes mom with a hat,' " Wallace joked.
"They know a reward is coming if they keep the hat on."