Surviving Christmas with a rambunctious dog 78

Years ago when the children were young and all five of them at home, we had two beagles and three cats.

All were beloved family pets who shared the house with us.

The beagles, Jezebel and Jethro got along

well together.

The cats placed themselves at the top of the pet hierarchy and set the rules for both dogs.

As is true for most families, there was company throughout the Christmas holidays. Kids, dogs, cats all played together, ran through the house and enjoyed each other. We would sit in the living room and watch the cats bat at the train running around the Christmas tree.

On Christmas day each animal received a gift. The dogs accepted their chew-bones nicely and took them to their doggy-beds for a good chew. It was much more fun to watch the cats play with their gifts of catnip mice. Their antics were comical, their postures always graceful. That was long ago.

Now our cats live outside in their heated cat houses and our home is dominated by a large, curly-haired, boisterous dog.

Much about the Christmas holidays has changed and Pierre is the catalyst for some of that change. For instance, baking now requires vigilance on my part.

I enjoy baking, especially at Christmas. Holiday music still fills the kitchen, while cookies come out of the oven. The difference is I cannot take my eyes off these cookies for a minute.

The other day I’d baked two pans of sugar cookies to be decorated later. I took them off the pans, placed them on the cooling racks on the counter. The phone rang and, as I walked across the kitchen to answer it, Pierre quietly put his front feet up on the counter and slurped two rows of cookies off a cooling rack; not two cookies, mind you, but two rows of cookies, in just the time it took to answer the phone.

Since his long legs allow him to surf the kitchen counters it’s no trouble for him to take whatever looks tempting. I scolded him and put a gate across the kitchen doorway. He put his head over the gate and looked at me with a searching look that clearly said, “You know I like cookies. So what’s the big deal?”

Every year, in mid-December, we choose a night to ride around various neighborhoods looking at houses festooned with Christmas lights and decorations. Of course, Pierre comes along. We try to choose a night that’s not terribly cold, because the two back windows must be half-way down so the dog can see the decorations, too. We three started out in an anticipatory, holiday mood, with Christmas music on the radio and Pierre bouncing around in the back seat.

This year quite a few houses in our area have large, inflated Santas,

reindeer and elves in

their yards. These are great attractions for children and, as it turns out, also for Pierre.

When we slowly pass a house with inflatables in the front yard, he leans out the window and barks a greeting. One of the yards in Suncrest has Santa stuck in an igloo with only his legs and feet sticking out. At intervals Santa’s legs kick up and down. This kicking motion immediately caught Pierre’s attention.

He barked. He growled. He tried to get out the window to grab those legs. Even after we passed the house it took him a while to settle down.

Life with Pierre is never dull or predictable. In any season, during any holidays, this big, rambunctious, loving dog adds so much to our lives.

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