For the first time since 2004 it was just me and mine for Christmas in 2012.
Because many people travel for the holidays Christmas is usually a work day for me, so my dogs have to share any festivities with the pack of many. We did not have the day off this year simply due to happenstance. It was a specific choice. A choice that required saying “No” a lot. A choice that required* referring a lot of potential jobs to other sitters. (*Ok, there’s no true requirement about referrals, but one of the most rewarding parts of my job is helping people resolve their pet care needs so they can travel with peace of mind whether I am the person providing the care or not. And feeding the client base of those also serving our community of pets with their care feels good too. There are enough pets needing care for all of us to have plenty of work, and more importantly, when in doubt do what’s best for the pets. )
That said, our Christmas morning had a rowdy start. Doris was very excited. That is not in her nature first thing in the morning. But this Christmas she ran all around the house play posturing at me and Aiko and Posy. When I touched a package under the “tree” (Poinsettia) her body language screamed “Gimme!!”
So I handed stockings off to all the dogs and Big Mean Kitty (Moon).
Aiko immediately pulled a wrapped gift out of his stocking and began shredding into it.
Posy was drawn to the snacks in the bottom of her stocking and, rather than applying her very sharp mind and going in through the top, chose the chew through method.
Doris wandered the room wanting to see what everyone else was having. Typical Doris. She does this at meal time too. She will walk away from the biggest bones and the best bowls of stew to see whether anyone else is having something better. Silly dog!
Once Aiko had unwrapped the gifts in the top of his stocking he abandoned it and tried to steal Posy’s stocking.
Moon declined to participate. I did spot him playing with one of his wrapped packages but when he noticed me watching he abandoned it. Likely because he got in big trouble for pulling the Christmas Cactus onto the floor first thing Christmas morning. Second time in a month he’s abused the poor plant.
I want to say my dogs don’t get Christmas. But truth is my old dog, Lovell, was exceptional in all regards, and definitely tuned in to the festivity of Christmas in an almost human way.
Lovell “got it”. I don’t know how or why. But the minute the Christmas stockings came out of storage he knew. And every year we would trek out to the Christmas tree farm – Ryerson’s U-Cut lot – way up Camp Baker Road in Phoenix, Oregon. Lovell was always something resembling reverent. He only peed on the old growth trees that had nothing to do with Christmas. He would tromp around in the mud with me until we found the perfect tree, and then instead of cutting it down ourselves with the puny handsaw they provide you upon entry we would stand and look helpless until the teenagers joyfully blasting around on the ATV passed our way. If you wave your saw at them they’ll stop and not only cut the tree down for you but also cart it back to your car.
This year is the first year since 1995 that I did not go to Ryerson’s U-Cut farm. My dogs are totally irreverent. They don’t get it. They want to pee on every tree they see. Repeatedly. I can’t let them do that. It’s not fair to all the other people who choose their Christmas trees from Mr. Ryerson’s delectable crop. So a large Poinsettia served as our tree this year and that was just fine.
Back to the subject of stockings and the engaged nature of my old boy. Lovell would pull out his wrapped gifts and shred them open to see what was inside. And then he would repeatedly toss his stocking into the air to make the treats fall out. No chew through on his part. He was smarter than that. My current dogs are all very savvy in their own ways, but Lovell was cerebral in a way most dogs simply are not.
So though we had a lot of fun this Christmas, I was nostalgic for the meaning the holiday appeared to hold for my old boy that clearly eludes my current pack. Me and Aiko are close. Very close. He is my baby. But Lovell was my friend. He was independent of me intellectually and emotionally. He was a truly transcendent being. Especially at Christmas.