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  By: Colleen Paige

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Fall 2006 Issue #19
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Don't Deck the Dog!

It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more? Dr. Seuss obviously was more than just a writer; he was a prophet who knew RESCUE’s theme for the holidays. But he might have also been describing the offering of a puppy as a holiday gift,” It came without batteries—but did come with tags. It was furry and cuddly and its rear even wags. It climbs up my lap. It climbs on my head. It eats from my plate and sleeps in my bed. It snorts and it pants. It stinks a bit too! Yes it could be my husband but this is untrue. It’s a dog! Yes it is! What an utter delight, a new family member on this Christmas night.”

Yes, it’s a fun time of year but not a great time to welcome a new pet into family. The time between Christmas and the New Year is a sad time for many pets whose novelty has already worn off and many find themselves abandoned at local shelters looking for new homes. The holidays can be very stressful on new pets that are thrust into a busy and chaotic environment. Children delight at father bringing home a new puppy, thinking it would be a great addition and then suddenly and sadly learning that rarely do small kids and puppies mix. If you have not already adopted a dog, think about waiting until the holiday buzz is over but if you must then here are a few tips from Santa’s helpers to help make the holidays happier and healthier for your new furry elf! There are many hazards to the holidays and aside from the large majority of drunken rednecks on the highway, most of them are targeted directly at your pooch. Many dog lovers don’t realize that such a wonderful and joyous season can pose such risk to our precious and beloved pets. Take for example, a Christmas party where your guest’s will be consuming plenty of holiday hootch. People do some pretty peculiar things when inebriated and often, dogs are the butt of many jokes and mainly by people who don’t like animals in general. So be careful not to allow your dog to wander around the house unsupervised during a party, lest you find him in the morning blinded by an oversized Santa hat and looking like Rudolph who’d been rode hard and put away muddy! Please remember that alcohol can poison a dog. One ounce of 20 proof “anything” can put a small dog in a coma.

Then we have the threat of children who have not been taught respect and love for animals. Young children can be especially cruel and unpleasant to your dog. Albeit occasionally innocent in intention, a young child may hit or kick Fido as you’re turning your back and are none the wiser. So if you plan to invite demonically possessed children to your holiday party and have concerns about the safety of your dog, please keep him in a separate quiet place where he will be attended to by a young priest and an old priest and will have access holy water if needed. Any time children and dogs are side by side, especially at a party where noise and commotion can set your dog searching for some canine chamomile, heightened risk to children is also posed, as an anxious and stressed dog who is otherwise more like Lassie, may decide to forego the assorted fruit and cheese plate and head directly for someone’s face, leg or hand. It’s a bit sad that we must even entertain these thoughts during this wonderful time of year but one must be wise. Norman Vincent Peale once said—“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” It’s a charming quote but there is one thing profoundly wrong with it—he has not met my sister’s children! Any animal in their path, at any time of year, would gladly rather get a full body shave by a groomer than to hang out in Damian-ville. I’m not saying that all children are horrible to pets but close supervision should be a must, all year round!

Other hot potato’s to watch out for is decorative plants such as Poinsettia, Holly and Mistletoe. This type of holiday flora can be toxic to your dog, so once you’ve given Fido a kiss under the mistletoe, please keep it up-up and away from his curiosity. The same thing goes for strings of lights that can be hazardous as he can choke on bulbs and get tangled in the wires. Ornaments, such as tinsel and decorative angel hair can cause eye injury and block the intestinal tract, so keep these things out of reach from small children and dogs. If you choose to have your dog sport a festive something around his neck, avoid loosely tied ribbon or string, as these can easily get hooked on something and cause choking. A safer alternative would be to buy a bright red or green collar and hang some single strings of bells from it. Artificial snow flocking can also be a “problema grande” for pets, as this is used for the tree as well as for decorative purposes on windows. Some flocking is poisonous, while others can be upsetting to the digestive tract and be aware that most flocking can cause respiratory irritation if inhaled.

Now, I’m not advising you to keep your dog locked up for all parties but if you live out in the countryside, where access to vet care is limited and you know you can’t keep an eye on your dog, it may just be the best choice for your dogs’ health and safety to put him somewhere quiet and dark away from the exultant crowd. So here we are with our last tip for the holiday season which involves your dog loving guests and food. Having only good intentions, friends and family may wish to give Fido, “just a nibble” but by the end of the evening, this could add up to an overabundance of food that can cause him severe intestinal distress. So please inform your guest’s that Fido has plenty of treats coming his way from Santa and that you would appreciate it if they refrained from sharing. You might even consider posting a sign at the door which reads “DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS!! Of course that could be a potential problem as well, because it most likely means that a large majority of your guests will starve!

Photographs by Cami Johnson,