It’s a dog’s life

By Carol Walker

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Almost a year ago, we were given a free puppy, the one of my dreams, a non-shedding, small dog that likes children and adults, loves to sit on our laps and generally brings joy and laughter to our lives. We love our little dog, but there are a few things….There is that barking and going crazy when guests arrive, something for which we are trying to find a solution. One suggestion from “the experts” is to make sure we do not make a big deal and let him bark and jump on us when we come home, and so far that works for us, but has not transferred to guests coming to our house, or the mailman or the UPS man.

Then there is that tissue paper habit he has. If the bathroom door is left open, he makes a bee line to the wastebasket, dragging the used tissue around the house playing “catch me if you can.” It’s not as bad as my sister-in-law’s basset hound that pulls off the entire roll of new toilet paper if it is not hidden.

There is that problem of snatching other things that drop on the floor such as a full book of postage stamps. A few of the stamps survived intact, and a couple of them could pieced together for use. He managed to put tooth holes in the reusable coffee filter that accidentally fell on the floor, and grounds now stream through the filter. I can’t find a replacement. Sunday he tried to grab the Hobby Lobby coupon that fell to the floor, but I managed to retrieve it in three pieces, kind of wet, but tape works wonders.

I was thinking he will grow out of this puppy behavior, but I’m not so sure. Our son has a seven-year-old golden retriever that still has a habit of snatching things, particularly food. When I arrived at their house last year, we found a plastic bag on the floor of the kitchen, and determined that it was the special oatmeal my daughter-in-law had purchased for breakfast the next day. Then we found another plastic bag on the floor that had once held tortellini. “Well, that was going to be supper,” she said.

Then there is the puking in the car. The vet thought he would outgrow it after he turns one, and since he is almost 15 months now, we had the car cleaned professionally, hoping better days were ahead. He does well on long trips if he has a dose of Dramamine, but last week, running errands around town, he upchucked while I was in the post office (asking if pieced together stamps were useable). Fortunately he aimed for the cup holder, and we could clean that fairly easily.

And so, we head into Christmas, new sights, new smells, children dropping food on the floor and leaving the bathroom door open, a Christmas tree with lights and ornaments, wrapped packages. This is new territory for our little imp, and apparently it can be a dangerous time of the year for pets.

Experts at petMD say the tree should be in a corner, blocked off from a pet, and noisy items such as aluminum foil or a plastic bottle filled with small objects, should be placed near the tree to alert the owner of a possible “Timber!”

It turns out there are numerous things that can cause intestinal distress for Fido or Fluffy. Pine needles need to be swept up, because if ingested, they can puncture the intestines, and tinsel, ornaments and wrapping paper can all cause choking and intestinal blockage.

No lights on the lower branches because the animal can get tangled in them, get shocked or can create a burning hazard. Speaking of getting tangled, in Evergreen, Colo., where our other son lives, a resident elk herd roams the neighborhood, chewing on branches and leaving droppings in the yards. Last year one got his antlers tangled in outdoor Christmas lights, and continued on his way with colored lights adding to his natural beauty.

Candles are a fire hazard with an excited dog or cat around, and holly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants are all poisonous to dogs and cats, so they should be kept out of reach as should edible Christmas ornaments like popcorn or gingerbread men. (Run, run, as fast as you can, Gingerbread Man!)

Well, Merry Christmas! I hope in all the attempts to safeguard our pet and home, we can focus on the real reason for the season – the babe in the manger who came at an appointed time for the sake of all mankind. There were no Christmas lights, ornaments or wrapping paper, just his parents, a few shepherds and some animals in a smelly stable.

Perhaps a dog or cat looked on.

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