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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Annie the Labrador with two toys in her mouth

A bit blurred because she wouldn’t keep still long enough.

This will be Annie’s fourth Christmas with us. The drama that surrounded her arrival is still so vivid in my mind that it seems hard to believe it was more than three and a half years ago.

The shut down, terrified, flea ridden dog that wouldn’t come out from under the dining table for three days is thankfully, nowhere to be seen these days. To say that she’s blossomed is an understatement of grand proportions.

The real Annie was in evidence yesterday as my mother arrived for Christmas. The dogs excitement was so off the scale that I have thought about not giving them their Christmas treats this year but instead sticking a bow on ‘grandma’ as by all accounts she’s all the present they need.

To see Annie take her new soft toy then steal Little Bear’s too and refuse all of his attempts to take it back was such a joy.  That she was enjoying her new gift was obvious by the frantic wagging, but to us it was a sign of just how far this girl has come.  There was a time not so long ago when she’d only take a toy to please you, but obviously had no idea what to do with it.

As Dog Rescues all over the country brace themselves for the influx of the Christmas puppies that will, with depressing predictability, be dumped upon them in the weeks and months ahead, I hope anyone looking for a dog will first consider a rescue. A dog like our Annie who far from being broken, just needed a chance to be loved.

Annie the Labrador with her new toy.

And so to bed. Annie and her new toy.

 

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Annie & Bear under the (fake) mistletoe

Annie & Bear under the (fake) mistletoe

At the weekend, during a half-hearted attempt at Christmas shopping I made one purchase that I was particularly tickled with.  It was a bunch of felt mistletoe. Now I know this might not be everyone’s idea of a top buy, but since I’ve had dogs I won’t buy mistletoe as the berries are poisonous.

I said as much in passing while chatting to the sales girl and she was absolutely horrified, hastily explaining that she had a new puppy and had no idea about things that might be harmful.

Cue crazy dog lady who then felt compelled to then hold up the queue listing all of the things that are potentially fatal to dogs and especially curious puppies…

Irresponsible advertising

It’s a topical point as a battle royal rages between the dog loving world and Morrison’s supermarket who’s Christmas advert shows a dog being fed Christmas pudding.

Raisins are incredibly toxic to dogs and even a few can cause fatal renal failure, a fact that their PR department is bizarrely trying to deny despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

There’s little excuse for large corporations to get it so wrong, even less for such a puerile stance when their error is pointed out to them, but we can be more generous to the innocent dog lover, who, like the young girl in the shop simply didn’t know.

Spread the word

So if you want to help dogs this Christmas, please spread the word that lots of everyday food stuffs and some of the plants we decorate our homes with at this time of year are potentially fatal to dogs.  It’s even more important when we welcome friends and family into our homes who may not have dogs.

One of Little Bear’s Bichon friends was fed four After Eight mints as a puppy by a visiting toddler and spent two ‘touch and go’ days at the emergency vet as a result.  Had he not had such a clued up owner or fur incapable of hiding chocolate stains, he may not have lived to tell the tale.

Here are some of the common ones, but Dog’s Trust do a more comprehensive list that’s worth a ‘cut out and keep’ and sticking to the fridge alongside the emergency vet number, just in case.

Avocados

Apple pips

Apricot kernels

Aloe Vera

Antifreeze

Chocolate

Raisins

Grapes

Holly berries

Kale

Mistletoe

Onions

Poinsettia

Xylitol (a sweetener found in low-calorie foods)

You can follow the Morrison’s story via the ‘Morrison’s Christmas Pudding TV Ad could Kill’ Facebook page

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Little Bear the dog in front of the Christmas tree

Little Bear and the Christmas tree

With the Christmas holidays around the corner, I’m counting down the days to a week off.

In my head, I’m imagining something straight out of a John Lewis ad.  All Country Living magazine festive with everyone laughing around an elegantly dressed table laden with fantastic food, fine china and posh crackers.

I’m enough of a realist to accept that it will be more like something out of Fawlty Towers, but I’m a relentless optimist too. Somehow, my deep desire for the fantasy Christmas has blocked out the fact that it will most likely be a few stressful days of last minute shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning, bed making and entertaining various house guests sandwiched between two 300 mile round trips to pick up and drop off family members.

Stress 

Sad though it is to admit, Christmas is stressful and if we’re stressed, you can bet our dogs will be too. Especially fearful dogs like Annie who take comfort in the certainty wrought through routine and anxious dogs like Little Bear who can quickly get hyper.

Having lots of visitors can be exciting, but it can also be over-stimulating for some dogs and ours are no exception.  In our eagerness to make sure everyone has a full glass and a plate of something tasty, we can too easily overlook the subtle signs of stress from our dogs.

Retreat

We’re taking radical action this year. We’re sacrificing the comfort of guests for the comfort of our dogs. We’re donating one of our sofas to a charity so that the dogs can have their beloved crates back.

Having a safe space to retreat to is really important for dogs all year round, but especially at Christmas. I’ll also be stocking up on Adaptil refills for the diffuser and there will be some stuffed Kongs and deer antlers on the treat menu to give them something to focus on while we’re playing hosts.  It’s no magic bullet, but knowing that the dogs are happy will at least be one less thing for me to stress about.

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