Fri, 12/15/2023 - 1:06am

Holiday Memo to the Dogs

From Santa chasing to tree toppling, a list of canine no-nos

Dear Dogs,

This is a reminder that the end of December is approaching, and that’s the reason for this memo. Judging from past experience, verbal requests or suggestions — to say nothing of direct orders — at this time of the year are either not being understood or, knowing that your people are distracted by the demands of the holiday season, being deliberately ignored. 

On the off chance that it’s the former not the latter reason, this year the communique will be in writing, as that particular form of communication leaves virtually no room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation.


If you want to keep your humans happy, treat the packages beneath the tree as sacred.


December is the time of the year when those who buy your dog food, pay your health-care provider and provide your entertainment celebrate a festive holiday that is an important part of many different religious traditions. What’s more, even those folks who never have and likely never will set foot in a church, synagogue, temple or mosque often join in these celebrations. 

What this means for you dogs is that there’s a great likelihood that there will be major disruptions in your routine, and this is a request that you view those disruptions with patience and understanding.

One of the most significant disruptions of your routine during this period will be holiday parties, which means your territory is going to be invaded by many strangers, some of whom will also be bringing their dogs and (horrors!) their cats. We ask that you be kind to the guest dogs, and perhaps, in the spirit of the season, even be willing to share some of your toys with the canine guests. 

The best we can hope for will be that you’ll ignore the guest cats. The holiday season is supposed to be one of peace on earth. Almost every major war during the past two centuries has halted, at least briefly, at this time of the year. If the guns could fall silent and the bombs stop dropping for a day or two, surely a two-day truce in the never-ending dog/cat war is not an impossible stretch. If the guest cats won’t agree to a temporary cease fire, we would hope that you would at least be able to avoid open warfare.

 Another aspect of the holiday parties is the human guests. We would be most appreciative if you could refrain from drowning them in dog slobber, climbing into their laps unless specifically invited to do so, smothering them will kisses or leaning on them demanding pets or ear and tail-head scratches. Please maintain a pleasant demeanor toward the guests, even if they are sitting in your chair or occupying your sofa. Most important, it would really be nice if a guest happens to be in your “spot,” if you could refrain from sitting in front of them with an icy stare and curled lips. We would also ask that you not use their trousers, skirts or jackets as a napkin.  

Holiday parties also mean a lot of food, some of which will undoubtedly overflow from the buffet table to the coffee table. We would be most grateful if you would not try to pull anything off the counter or eat anything off either of the tables. And please, please, don’t drink from glasses left within your reach. It is OK to beg for treats from these guests as long as you do it subtly. Standing on your hind legs with your front paws in their lap and drooling on their trousers or skirts would definitely be a major breach of proper decorum.  


Holiday parties also mean a lot of food, some of which will undoubtedly overflow from the buffet table to the coffee table. 


Speaking of the coffee table, if it is not laden with food or adult beverages during the holiday season, it will undoubtedly be home to a number of holiday decorations. What this means is that if you require more vertical space than, say, a Miniature Dachshund, we’d be grateful if you would find some other spot for your afternoon nap than beneath that coffee table. The reason for this request is that if something should startle you from your nap, the result would likely be the table decorations scattered all over the living-room carpet with several, perhaps, shattered. In fact, making a decision to avoid the coffee table altogether during this period would probably endear you to your humans. 


Under no circumstances should you pull anything off the counter, buffet table or the coffee table.


There will likely be a lot of deliveries by FedEx, UPS and the postal service to your home during the holiday season. These delivery men and women do not approach your house intent on making mischief, so please refrain from barking, growling and otherwise threatening these delivery personnel with bodily harm or even mayhem.  

Your people will also be bringing home large bags and packages. There are several things we would ask you to refrain from doing when people are carrying these packages into the house. One thing in particular would be to refrain from doing the old slapstick comedy routine when going through doorways, particularly when that doorway is already occupied by a human carrying packages. It’s also considered very impolite to push aside a human carrying packages in order to be first into the house.  

Most Christian humans celebrate the holidays by bringing a large tree into the house. Yes, we know, you aren’t allowed to bring sticks indoors, but you have to accept the fact that this is an occasion where rank hath its privileges. However, they intend to decorate this tree with a lot of colored lights, pretty bulbs and garlands, and they intend to put boxes wrapped in colorful paper beneath this tree. They did not bring it into the house so the boy dogs would now have indoor plumbing, nor is it a new water fountain. In fact, drinking from the tree stand is not advisable since there are some folks who add tree food/preservative to the tree water and that, at minimum, will distress your GI tract. 


The purpose of the Christmas tree is to receive decorations and colored lights — not to be indoor plumbing for the boy dogs.


The people who trim the tree will become very distressed if you eat the bulbs, pull the lights off, or, in a moment of extreme excitement, accidentally topple the tree. It is also considered graceless to bat the decorations off the tree with your paws or tail, and it’s really gauche if, having done so, you madly pursue them across the carpet. You should also refrain from any racing or other wildly enthusiastic displays with guest dogs or your housemate dogs in the vicinity of the tree. 

Thus, as is the case with the coffee table, it is wise to vow to keep your distance from the tree until the holiday season is over. If your family celebrates Hanukkah, you might want to make the same pledge vis-a-vis the menorah because, since it features open flames, that poses even more danger to your well-being than does a Christmas tree.


Drinking from the tree stand is not advisable.


If you want to keep your people happy, it is wise to treat the packages beneath the tree as sacred and leave them untouched, no matter what enticing smells might be filtering through the paper, until you are asked to help unwrap them. This caution also applies to candy dishes. Not only have medical authorities deemed the contents of these dishes unsuitable for dogs, but they also tend to produce digestive upsets. The same holds true for the kitchen trash cans containing turkey bones and many other leftovers from holiday meals, which produce delightful scents, because it is impossible for you to predict which of these delightful scent-producing items are OK and which will produce a gastronomic hurricane. While we are on the subject of things you shouldn’t eat at this time of the year, please note that many holiday flowers — poinsettias, holly, amaryllis and mistletoe, in particular — are really nasty, and they’ll make you “sick as a dog.”

People tend to dress in different sorts of costumes or clothing during the holidays. Red and green clothing is popular with Christmas merrymakers, while blue and silver or white are popular with Hanukkah celebrants. But, for some reason, many people also can’t resist dressing their dogs in Christmas or Hanukkah costumes or decorations. Although this custom may seem absurd to you and you may be embarrassed by your costume, we ask you to be patient, tolerate the indignity and humor your person. It’ll only be for a few days, and then you can return to your usual respectable appearance. When you think about it, it’s really a pretty small price to pay to please and entertain those who buy your dog food, pay your medical expenses and provide for your recreational activities.  

As long as we are on the subject of costumes, a lively and quick man sporting a white beard and a red, ermine-lined coat and hat dotted with soot smoking a pipe might suddenly shows up in the room with the tree. He will have a pack on his back, and when he opens it, he’s not retrieving an improvised explosive device — he’s only reaching for toys and other presents to carefully place in and fill the stockings hung by the fireplace, one of which most likely has your name on it. For that reason alone, please do not bark, growl, chase or, heaven forbid, bite this person, even though he may look like a common peddler.   


Knocking down the Christmas tree is not an option.


We ask that you take the suggestions contained in this memo under advisement and that you give most serious consideration to complying with them in a way that’s heavy on the side of cooperation. If you do or even try, this holiday season can pass in the spirit of peace, harmony and good will toward all. 

What’s more, it’ll prompt many, if not all, of your owners to sing to you, “Love and joy come to you ... And God bless you and send you a happy New Year.”




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