Charlotte Peltz Living with Your Dog "Yo Ho Ho!!" brought to you by Joy Beckner Artist/ Bronze Sculptor

Living with Your Dog

Yo Ho Ho!!

by Charlotte Peltz

When did it happen that Christmas decorations started being marketed before Halloween? Was it in Mexico? But, there they are and it follows that people will begin to make Christmas lists of presents for those near and far.

If a puppy happens to be something you are considering, please do read on. IF there could be a worse time to add a puppy to a household I would really love to know when that is. Ah -- does that burst your bubble? Do you have wonderful thoughts of sweet Little Johnnie wiping sleep from his eyes and saying -- "Oh! A puppy!!! For me?"

To take the scene a bit farther, L.J. sweeps the pup up into his arms and there is a lot of oohing and ahhing about Snuffles. Snuffles definitely cooperates with wiggles, puppy kisses and they all lived happily ever after. Or -- did they?

Puppies, at the proper age for separation from mom and siblings, find those first several days and nights away from the only life they know a horrific time! Instead of a nice warm mom and some furry sisters and brothers who, by now, know all the rules of play, food sharing, rough-housing, etc., Snuffles finds herself schlepped around several feet off the ground, (really scary for a pup,) sometimes squeezed too hard (no one even noticed!), passed from person to person (all or probably nearly all!) totally unknown to her, and it goes downhill from there!

Once the oohing and ahhing has ended, it is clearly time to get down to all those other presents gaining importance by the moment. So -- what to do with Snuffles? Oh -- isn't she cute playing with the wrappings and ribbons? Snuffles is now on her own!

Fast forward. What is that awful red "stuff" on Snuffles face? Is she bleeding? What could she have cut herself on? OH -- she was eating ribbons from the packages! No big deal. Really? Well -- maybe yes and maybe no. Puppies did not come into this world with a digestive system that permits them to eat Christmas wrappings, so frankly I would begin to be concerned about the ribbons, broken ornaments, carelessly handled paper napkins tossed into the wastebasket from last evening's fiesta, and the wonderfully curious cord that goes from the tree lights to the electrical outlet…

Ok. Snuffles has lived through package opening. Great.

Did anyone think to take her outside to potty? Oops! Guess not, or there wouldn't be that stinky mess right on top of my brand new sweater. Hmmm. It was stinky and particularly messy because no one planned any lessons for the people so that they would not give inappropriate treats ("Look! She loves my……") "Where is her water dish? Water dish? Remember? I told YOU to get her a water dish? Well -- where is it?"

Next scene. A few days later. It is Christmas vacation, after all, and there are all those invitations, fun things to do, and off we go. Snuffles? "See ya later, pup."

Snuffles is now left to wander and finds all these neat Holiday wonders to investigate, and lots of them serve really well to pass this oh-so-boring time. Too bad that said items of her choice were not meant to be puppy chew toys! Anything plastic is fabulous. Soft does just as well. Feel free to add items that fall in between. Snuffles is not all that particular.

But damage from the new pup is really quite minimal, all things considered, and then IT happens. January 2. Here is Snuffles: There has been a week of near constant activity, chew toys everywhere, almost every minute someone to hold her, cuddle her, give her totally inappropriate treats -- and -- BAM! They all disappear!

No littermates. No mom. No holding every minute!!!! No nothin'!

Color the sofa pillows gone; ditto the remote for the TV; reading glasses? Yup -- same scenario. Bad pup? NO!!

Puppies are "forever" -- not for Christmas. Pups deserve planning, concern about THEIR needs, preparation to prevent disasters that either injure them or destroy valuable or precious personal belongings of their people, and lots and lots more.

Any child (or adult!) needs to be educated to understand this pup commitment and responsibility. So -- what to do? Your Christmas tree can have cleverly worded cards and Christmas tree ornaments that lead the new soon-to-be-pup-owner down a discovery path, and each step of the way can have some fun or useful treasure that will make the new pup's ultimate arrival one of great joy and a happy outcome.

There are: puppy toys, collars, leashes (yes -- there could be more than one for various training experiences), food dishes, enrollment in a puppy class, a puppy training video, books about training and the breed (if it is "a" breed, if not, there is a book about that pup also!), a card that says when the pup can be visited as a next step in coming home, a crate, an invitation to participate in a big prize for the best name, and lots more!

Is it the same as a pup under the tree? Of course not! But neither does the person (child or adult) begin the major commitment of dealing with a pup on such tenuous terms as with the glitter of a Christmas tree. Christmas trees are for Holiday Season. Puppies are for their whole lives.

"One can measure the size and moral progress of a nation to how she treats her animals." Mahatma Gandhi.

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