Children and pets alike, they all enjoy the excitement of Christmas. Extra food smells in the house, lots of fun wrapping paper rolls stacked in the corner. A large tree with “toys” that swing as people walk past them. Decorations on walls and ceilings that can be sniffed and reached with a bit of cunning ingenuity.
It’s Doggo Christmas
Gardens full of flashing lights, giant inflatable snowmen and new visitors to the house to be welcomed. The festive season is an absolute sensory overload for humans and domestic pets.
“Have you bought Dave a gift, what are you getting him?” was a question often asked of me in the weeks leading up to the ‘big day’. Umm I hadn’t really thought about it to be honest – was my standard reply. I was being honest, I hadn’t really given it much thought, Christmas is for humans.
Please don’t consider what I write next as being in any way judgmental towards you the reader of this book; I don’t treat Dave like a pet with regards to my interaction with him. I talk to Dave like he’s a young adult human. I don’t use any kind of “baby talk” in a voice that would seem alien to him.
Dave is from a working dog family and the mental image of a farmer on a windswept hillside calling out “come on Davy wavy, it’s time for diner din dins, my puppy wuppy” fills me with laughter.
Dave is a dog that wants to be on a “working” mission, be that mission playing with a new ball, or hiking under hailstones on the moor. Likewise Dave has no concept that the manic weeks and months leading up to December 25th are a retail shopping delight to many. Dave is a dog. Dogs have no understanding of the Argos Boxing Day sale!
So that was how my train of thought went. He gets a new toy or new ball throughout the year so December 25th is just another day in his life. Thankfully other people in our lives were far less Scrooge like and Dave did indeed have gifts purchased for him!
Our first Christmas morning together was spent in a holiday cottage in North Wales. The owners of the cottage had asked several weeks before if it was OK to buy and wrap a gift for Dave and of course being grateful I had said yes.
So it came to be that on Christmas morning Dave did indeed have a gift of his very own to unwrap. The cottage owners had decorated the holiday let with a tree and had left Dave’s gift for me to see upon my arrival. Very thoughtful of them.
I placed the paper wrapped package on the floor in front of his paws and told him to wait. He sat the best he could and looked down at the brightly coloured object. Unsure what was going to happen next. I pointed at the gift and told him to unwrap it.
I told you I talk to Dave like a human. To help him understand I tore off a small piece of the wrapping paper so he could see what was inside. A section of bright green tennis ball could be seen and Dave immediately spotted this! Without any more instruction from me, Dave tore off the paper and exposed the tennis ball that had teased him moments earlier.
Bounding across the lounge floor of the cosy cottage Dave was very happy with his discovery, though I expect he was puzzled as to why a human had mysteriously covered “his” tennis ball in crunchy festive paper.
Unlike humans who genuinely like to guess what’s inside the gift, I am convinced that Dave just found the wrapping paper a hindrance to playing fetch with the new ball. He does have a frustration growl and too much sellotape and gift tags brings this out. It is rather cute in a way.
Christmas means meeting people and Dave’s first Christmas was made even more wonderful by meeting lots of “new” people. I had been invited to a large family gathering and Dave was very much included on the invitation; even though the cottage owners had thoughtfully provided a large dog crate should I have needed to leave him at home.
‘Dave is “very” friendly and a 10 months old border collie,’ I warned my hosts for the evening but thankfully they insisted that Dave came along to meet them all. If you have owned a border collie around that age you need no further introduction to the endless amounts of energy these dogs posses.
Dinner was delightful, all the trimmings and Dave was allowed some tasty meat and potato peelings in a bowl to the side. He never gets fed from the table and doesn’t beg or whimper when people are eating their food.
With the dishes cleared away it was time for people to meet Dave properly. Just picture the scene, a bouncy border collie running to every person in turn for an ear rub, If someone so much as smiled at Dave he would be over in a shot to meet his new best friend.
From a few weeks old I taught Dave to never jump up at people. I had an unfortunate incident once whilst out walking the South Downs Way. A rather bouncy Labrador off the lead came up to my partner’s young daughter and jumped up. She was terrified and the dog jumped down, drawing blood with his claws all over her stomach as it did so.
Not a very nice experience for all involved. The poor child was scared of dogs for ages until Dave helped her understand that not all dogs jump up and it just takes correct training by a determined owner to stop this dangerous trait.
Back to post Christmas dinner and Dave was enjoying being the star attraction of the evening. “Dave, Dave, Dave,” was all you could hear as the young children called him over to play fetch. Adults would give him a rub on the head as they talked and laughed.
It was a very enjoyable Christmas for David and when you consider he was just 10 months old, his behavior around a crowd of new adults and children was impeccable. I won’t take all the credit for his training as Dave very much makes an effort to learn protocol too at social occasions.
With a final sigh and his head on his paws Dave called it an evening and went to sleep. Boxing Day was another day and he had a new tennis ball to chase!