We spent Christmas in Washington with my husband's family this year. The highlight for the dogs, I'm sure, was playing with our 3-year-old neice who is fearless and very dog-focused. Kirby, while still a little skittish when people suddenly emerge from behind closed doors, behaved quite well. He sweetly interacted with everyone and played cheerfully with the little one. Baxter was his usual calm self, padding around the house, sticking his head into people's laps for a pet, watching the birds in the feeders out back and, mostly, snoozing.
The home was festively decorated, the tree was up, Bing Crosby crooned on the CD player and the smell of Christmas cookies and my mother-in-law's pies baking was heavenly (the taste was even better). Before arriving there, I was having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit. In the midst of unpacking and trying to find things, we never managed to get any decorating done this year and I was missing it.
The dogs were decorated a wee bit as well. Despite the astounding number of holiday dog fashions in the stores, we always keep the holiday dog decoration to a minimum. My husband pretty much rejects the idea of ever putting anything but a collar on a dog, but he relents during the holidays. I do see his point, but since I also sport a holiday pin or scarf occasionally, I don't really have a problem with making the day special through small, understated attire. I put a red bandanna around Baxter's neck and a red, stretched-out scrunchy around Kirby's. I think it's particularly interesting how the dogs seem to understand that this is something special. Baxter, who also ended up sporting a green curled ribbon off of one of my husband's gifts, seemed downright enthusiastic about his holiday wear. When I picked up the bandanna the first day he walked right up to me and presented his head so I could easily put it on. Kirby, who wasn't quite sure about the whole thing initially, had figured out by the second day that the scrunchy made him look cute to observers and willingly approached to put on his holiday wear.
While Kirby was still a wee bit nervous about all the ripping and tearing when it came time to open presents, Baxter jumped into action as usual. He LOVES helping people unwrap their presents by sticking his nose directly into the middle of the goings-on and grabbing bits of paper and ribbon in his front teeth to help pull them away from the box. Bags are even more fun -- Baxter unabashedly sticks his entire head into the bag, whether your hands are in there or not. Mind you, he never touches a package until it's time for opening. I've always been impressed with Baxter's level of understanding of the entire process. When it comes to his own, he tears into them with particular enthusiasm. He knows.
This year Baxter got a rope candy cane from my mom -- a gift he seemed quite enthusiastic about until Kirby swept in underneath him and stole it. Once it had Kirby slobber on it, Baxter refused to touch it.
Kirby pretty much waited for us to pull out his presents and give them to him. When we pulled out a black rubber bone, Baxter took the opportunity to steal. He grabbed it and headed for the other side of the room, where he immediately tore into it, working out all of the pent-up aggression from a few days without a trip to the dog park. Within 30 minutes he had succesfully chewed the end off the black rubber bone and we were forced to take it away from him, fearing he might ingest gut-clogging amounts of rubber. Poor Baxter, who had been pretty gleeful about the whole deal up to that point, was crestfallen. He watched my husband take the bone away to the garbage, put his head down and sighed. No other presents could thrill him after that point.
This year the big hit for Kirby was a stuffed pink and tan moose from my mom. He immediately found the squeaker and made the rounds of the room showing off the moose to each person while accompanying his journey with a chorus of squeaks. After several slow laps (we had to put the kabosh on running in the house -- both because of his condition and because the grandparents had issued a "no running in the house" rule) he finally settled down behind my mom's feet and proceeded to destroy the squeaker. He did a couple more laps making a whooshing sound, and, after finding this less rewarding, proceeded to eviscerate the moose. Moose went away at that point. So much for cuteness.
I have to say, overall, both dogs were very well-behaved. They suddenly found themselves in a house full of people, tempted by tasty smells and baby toys they weren't allowed to touch. They took naps, sat patiently under the table waiting for scraps that never came and looked longingly at the toddler who kept waving Christmas cookies over the edge of her high chair. There were no dog-related tears, messes or embarassing moments. Minor scuffles between Baxter and Kirby ended without significant issues and they were on to the next distractions.
We had a wonderful time seeing family and the dogs seemed to enjoy it as much as we did.
On behalf of both Baxter and Kirby, we wish our readers a very happy holiday season and all the best in the new year!