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Are Pets Part of Your Holiday Traditions?

By Langley Cornwell

Several years ago, Julia wrote a thoughtful article about Including Family Pets in Your Holiday Plans. With the season upon us, I thought it would be interesting to take a poll to see if my friends included pets in their holiday traditions. I’m happy to report there are no “Scroogely Curmudgeons” among my friends!

Many people hang stockings for their pets and give them special presents. In fact, lots of my friends acted surprised that I even asked; I received answers like absolutely and of course and even a few why yes, don’t you?

Sherrie’s pets receive presents and get extra treats. Christina’s dogs get presents – toys, cookies, clothing, the works – and they let their dogs open gifts before the people do. Sharon’s dogs have stockings and get special gifts and doggie treats. Jo says: “Of course our furbabies get some Christmas dinner and they have stockings with toys and treats. Don't all pets?”

Brandi’s dog and birds have stockings hung right alongside the family’s, and theirs are always filled, just like everyone else’s. Rissa’s dog has a stocking and gets gifts; he loves getting all his new toys on Christmas morning! Luchrisa says her pets help her and her husband open their packages and then have a great time playing in the wrapping paper.

Alina hangs tiny stockings filled with a few treats for their cats. Her kids think it is the funniest thing ever. Michelle always makes sure to buy a little stocking for each of her animals and puts them up on the fireplace with treats in them. Scott’s pets all get their own stocking on the fireplace filled with goodies. His family thinks making the stocking with their pet’s names in glitter is part of the fun.

I got a lot of answers that involved dressing up or otherwise adorning pets for the season. Tania’s greyhound is going to get a red scarf-type collar with bells this year. And she always paints her Diva dog’s toenails in Christmas colors. Starr’s dogs wear Santa or elves hats and have their own stockings filled with CANIDAE treats. Deborah’s “little girls” each have her own Christmas sweater; one says “Naughty” and the other says “Nice.” David dresses up his dog like Santa, but he says the dog acts more like a devil.

Suzanne’s pups are a big part of her holiday traditions. They get dressed up for the occasion and share her holiday meal. She says she loves them too much to even have a moment without them and (halfway) jokingly adds that she sees her family after Christmas so she can spend the actual holiday at home with her pups.

Holiday cards and tree ornaments are a fun way to include pets in the season. Laurie includes photos of her pets in holiday cards every year, and Kim adds paw prints to Christmas cards – usually drawn or stamped in. Her two favorite ornaments are from a time before she had kids and her cats were her children. She says that even though one kitty has been gone a while now, she still think of it as “his” ornament every time she hangs it up.

Nancy has miniature stockings that she hangs on her tree with the name of each pet she has loved and lost. She does this to honor their sweet memory every Christmas.

There are other nice ways people include pets in their holiday traditions. Ali delights in watching her cats bask in the glow of the Christmas tree lights. George used to take Pippy, his cockatoo that recently passed away, to see and be photographed with Santa.

Beaucee’s dog sends out holiday cards with her picture to about 15 people, including the vet, the pizza delivery person, and the nice ladies at the bank who send her a dog biscuit through the chute. She exchanges gifts with her doggie friends who visit. And, of course, she wears a holiday scarf on the special day.

Laura does it up really big; she puts special Christmas collars on her dogs. The cats think the sleigh bells hung on the doors are for them to use when they want to go out. The cats also use the tree as a favorite place to enjoy the glow of the lights. When their youngest cat was a kitten, she thought the tree was her personal perching spot. Laura came home one night to find her asleep about 6 feet up in the tree. She was the only ornament on the tree that year! All of her pets get Christmas ornaments every year, so all pets past and present are represented on the tree. Her pets all get special treats when the family has their Christmas Eve celebration. There are gifts from Santa under the tree, and stockings stuffed with special toys and treats for every pet.

Mark’s cats think having a tree in the house is sooo cool. They lay under it, and rearrange ornaments and garland on a daily basis. They help decorate too by pulling the ornaments out and constantly jumping in and out of the box. Their dog gets to travel to see all of her relatives, and their Christmas card is a collection of photos of all of their furry children.

It all sounds merry and bright. Are pets included in your holiday traditions?

Top photo: David J. Laporte
Middle photo: Craig Howell
Bottom photo: adrigu

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