A Dog's Eye View of
By Veni Harlan
A dead tree, normally fair game for marking, is dragged into the living room. Ornaments resembling dainty dog toys are sprinkled over the branches but you can't mark or mouth anything! The people are fiercely protective of this oddity. It is even strung with warning lights. The doggies huddle and discuss the matter. The oldest explains this seasonal madness to the youngster. "The people have gone mad - it will pass. Give it three weeks." Soon, tons of food begin to fill the house - none of it for dogs! Next, huge overstuffed bags and boxes appear and are crammed into closets with no ceremony at all. The dogs have seen squirrels hoard in this way, but they are worried. When your people begin to act like squirrels no good can come of it.
Then strange objects appear - candles, odd dolls with pointed hats and beards. Worst of all, everything sports a ribbon around its neck. The dogs suspect that doggies will be the next thing festooned. .. The bags are hauled from the closets and everything is covered with inedible paper and, yes, more ribbon. Then the whole mess is arranged under the tree corpse and the dogs are warned that any urine will be sternly dealt with. One of the socks hung on the wall begins to smell like dog toys and pricey dog treats.
Trussed up in nasty holiday sweaters with bows chafing at their necks and pride, the dogs huddle once again. "There is more," the elder says. "Children come." (Our home is normally a "child-free" zone - safe for other living things.) Sure enough, human puppies spill out of cars to tear open all the packages the dogs were forbidden to touch. Then they turn their attention toward the dogs. The old dog braces for the assault. The pup tries to make a break and finds that children, puppies that they are, love a moving target. Finally everyone eats and the pup discovers what the elder dog has known for over a decade. Sit by the kids, they drop food. Plus, in a pinch, you can take food from them quite easily. They're always running around with something they don't really need clutched in their tiny, dog level, hands. A sip of punch, a cookie, a cracker, some cheese, teething biscuits, milk from a baby bottle, a candy cane - it's a doggie bonanza for a clever thief. Sometimes they'll even give you stuff. All in all, it's worth the overzealous hugs and minor atrocities.
Eventually, the children, the presents, and (alas) the food, have all gone away. The dogs eye that fat sock on the wall - the one with all the tantalizing smells. Sure enough, their people begin dividing up the treats: a bone, a ball, peanut butter dog biscuits, toys with the squeakers intact, stuffed animals not yet disemboweled. The madness has brought some joy after all! In an hour exhausted dogs will settle on the couch to watch movies even they have seen before. As the dogs finally pass out, their people begin gently picking bits of candy cane from their fur. The earth is spinning slowly again.
Fireside Christmas by Margaret Sweeney
HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU AND YOURS!
Veni Harlan lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with Borzois and Mardi Gras, the Cardigan Corgi.