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  • Andrew

Christmas with your dog

Is your dog just as excited as you are for Christmas this year? Probably not. I always need to remember that dogs don’t have the ability to look forward to such annual events. That’s one of the best qualities in a dog – their inherent ability to always live in the moment. Just like what my 10 year old Labrador, Rosie shall be doing when she’s wearing her obligatory Christmas Day hat that she got as a present. She’ll be living in the forced photogenic moment, probably with a healthy treat dangling behind the camera. She might not like it, but she’s living in the moment. During the lead up to the big day, she’ll be justifiably baffled on why a Norway Spruce has randomly appeared in the lounge, why everyone’s walking around in the most garish musical jumpers imaginable and most importantly why she isn’t allowed to pee on the bizarrely colourful tree indoors. Yes, the festive period must be incredibly bewildering for our pooches.

Christmas time is always a great opportunity to spend some quality time with your loved ones. When you have a dog, they are a massive part of the family, so by default must be included in the festivities. It would absurd for them not to be part of the fun wouldn’t it? As most of the family appear to care more for our dog than my wife and I, it seems I have answered my own question there. Getting your dog in the Christmas spirit is vital. That’s why we always take Rosie to our local Christmas market, where collectively we all are forced to admit to ourselves that Christmas is almost upon us. We can’t ignore it anymore. We can’t cling on to the mantra of ‘Bonfire Night’s only just gone’ any longer I’m afraid. It’s time to don your winter hat and scarf, insist that listening to a brass band in the freezing cold is pleasurable whilst silently resenting paying £5 for a weak cup of tea in a tiny plastic cup accompanied by a mince pie. It doesn’t matter because you’re getting into the Christmas spirit… and that includes the dog!

Taking your dog into crowded outdoor events such as a Christmas market certainly has its moments. The discarded half eaten venison burger on the floor that your dog has managed to find like a homing missile. Not to mention dealing with Margaret who runs the bric-a-brac stall and her desperate insistence that you should buy a wooden dog shaped ornament for your mantle-piece. These are just some of the compulsory experiences we shall certainly have this year. I wonder what time the chaos starts, when your dog comes face to face with a real life Reindeer that’s come all the way from Swindon in the back of a truck? Cue the inevitable furore from your fellow market go-ers when they see a Labrador getting chased by a suspiciously donkey shaped animal, with what looks like a plastic red nose strapped on its face. We’re all in the Christmas spirit now, right?

In my opinion, there are some very questionable products out there for dogs on the lead up to Christmas Day. My wife and I are the self-appointed gate-keepers to make sure they’re suitable. This means all presents from well-meaning loved ones not bought from the Christmas market, are stringently vetted and checked. To be honest, this process isn’t too dis-similar to getting your bag x-rayed at airport security. Some presents make the cut, and unbeknown to our family members (until now) some don’t. It’s all part of being a responsible dog owner though. I would argue that letting your 5 year old son play with firecrackers around the Christmas tree next to Grandma isn’t correct. Just like I believe watching your dog chew on some mass made luminous red and green artificial rawhide in the shape of a candy cane isn’t correct either. That’s why going to your local Christmas market can be a great opportunity to really treat your pooch to some of the best presents out there. We find that most of the dog friendly gifts are independently made and lovingly crafted by small, local business owners. Surely in such uncertain times, now is the moment to spend a little at your local Christmas market and be a part of the community.

Once the annual Christmas market outing is over, you shall no doubt be ladened with all sorts of brilliant presents and paraphernalia for your pooch this year. As explained, if you’re anything like us, all gifts must reach certain standards in order for them to be given to Rosie on Christmas Day morning. Most of them can be found at our local Christmas market and are exactly what we’re looking for.

Now comes the joy of wrapping up your dog friendly presents, writing tags for them to blankly stare at, whilst the video camera continues to roll during the present opening ceremony. Make no mistake, all of this preparation goes on away from your four legged best friend, just so it doesn’t spoil the surprise for them when it gets to Christmas Day morning. When the time eventually arrives for your dog to see the pile of ornately wrapped presents, be prepared to come to terms with the sad reality that your dog has got more presents than you this year. Not just this year, but for the sixth year in a row. Spare a thought for me when I’m opening my third pair of socks, whilst Rosie the Labrador tucks into the glorious treasures found at the healthy dog treat stall from two weeks ago.

Speaking of sparing a thought – rather than buying your beloved dog yet another gift, why not spend that money on the dogs out there, that really need our help and support. There’s plenty of deserving dog charities that help dogs who are much less fortunate than our own. Granted, if I’m spending £5 on a weak cup of tea, I can certainly spend that on helping a dog have a better life too.

Until next time.

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