Pets and the Holidays - A Cautionary Tale
I have had pets for all of my adult life. You would think I would have learned something by now. However as recently as this Thanksgiving, I once again stressed out one of my beloved pets! Here are some highlights that comprise this cautionary tale of holiday disasters with my pets:
Halloween - Circa 1995 - Four very eager preschoolers are at my kitchen counter making chocolate from cocoa melts. One of the little darlings drops a 5 oz pumpkin of pure chocolate onto the floor. It is subsequent devoured in seconds by an 8 pound chihuahua affectionately referred to as Stinky. $200 and an emergency vet visit later, Stinky's tummy is adequately pumped and she lives to see another day.
Easter - Circa 1999 - Stinky the 8 pound chihuahua (who by the end of this story will be an 8.5 pounds chihuahua) makes her way unto the children's table and promptly devours an entire stick of butter. Fortunately, no vet visit, however, Stinky later earned her name and then some!
Oscar Night Party - Circa 2004 - Overzealous puppy Buddy, goes for a strand of hair hanging in front of my niece's face and almost manages to chomp her nose. Oscars Night promptly ended in a sea of tears, confusion and profuse apologies.
Any Holiday Almost any year since 2008 - My sweet GSD mix, Bailey, turns into a herding machine, nipping heels and some unfortunate guest's backsides. Her "mini bites" are not appreciated by the party goers. I guess this would also be a good way to get out of hosting holidays, but i digress.
Thanksgiving 2019 - My shy, little baby kitten, Minnie, literally disappears! After an exhaustive search of the house and outdoors, we finally find her not just behind but in a cubby hole under a dresser.
You can read may articles with tips on "How to occupy your pets during the holidays" and "How to keep your pets safe at holiday time." However, when I think about all these events, they have one thing in common - CONFUSION! Holidays are full of confusion! Pets are out of their routine and it is nearly impossible to keep track of their every move and whereabouts as well as those of your guests.
I think I have finally figured it out. My dogs love their beds and crates. They have always been a safe haven for them when they need to relax or just need to get away from it all. My cats love to explore and play in the basement and sunroom. That is were they will be spending the holiday, safe, happy and relaxed.
You may ask, "Well, Diane, why did not think of this years ago? It seems so simple." The answer is I have. However, every year certain family members who will go unnamed (hint, hint, it not me or my daughter) insist on letting them out because they have "been upstairs too long" after about an hour has passed only to find they were probably sleeping as do 80% of the day anyway or "people want to see them!" That is when the fun begins, the herding, the barking, the running away in terror when they are approached inappropriately and the inevitable accidents waiting to happen and trust me, then nobody "wants to see them!"
Which finally brings me to my point. Unless you have a very well trained or extremely social animal, just like many of us, for the most part they are just waiting for the day to be over so they can get back to normal with "their people."
I encourage you to brush up on foods that are problematic or toxic at this time of year for your pets, strategies to manage stress and things to occupy them during this holiday season. As for me, I will be removing them from this chaotic, confusing and scary equation and I will be placing them in a safe space away from the madding crowd to curl up and relax on their favorite bed and only hope I will be able to join them there soon!