I knew this Christmas would be different because of Lucky, our 1 year old Golden Retriever. In August, one morning on our way to work, we came over a hill and a beautiful Golden Retriever was laying in the middle of the road. My husband honked, but the dog wouldn’t move and we had to actually drive off the road to get around him. As we went slowly by, he raised his head and looked us straight in the eyes and lifted one front paw – obviously broken. Short version of the story: he let J pick him up and put him in my lap, so we rescued him from our busy country road and took him to our vet. After a hellish hour, there was no question that he was ours, and we agreed to be responsible for the repair of his leg. The first examination revealed a second, much worse break of a back leg, and then a later examination revealed that his other front paw was also broken. The third broken leg was not discovered until after the rear leg had been repaired with plates, a rod, and an outside stabilizer bar, and by then not only we, but every member of the vet’s staff loved him completely. Four operations and a couple of months later, we had to agree to have his rear leg removed because it just wouldn’t heal. Even when he was in tremendous pain, he was playful, friendly, and energetic. He walked out of the vet’s the day after the amputation, and has not looked back. Not only is he sweet and loving, he is CRAZY in that way that only almost grown puppies can be! He runs faster on 3 legs than two of our other dogs can on four. He hauls logs around the yard, he pesters the cats, wrestles the dogs, hauls the rugs around, has eaten two of my shoes, a pair of pants, and a credit card (I am now famous at the Bank of America!), goes up and down steps without hesitation, and has tried more than once to swim in the water feature on the front deck. We love him, are training him, but we were pretty sure that if he could get next to the tree, not only would he cart off the ornaments, but at some point he would have decided that the tree itself was a big stick that he was supposed to haul off. No other ornament could be below 4 ft because it too would have been fair game as his newest toy. In addition, we live in a small cabin in the woods, our pets are inside/outside pets, and between the three of us, we have 4 dogs and 4 cats – all rescues, including a 65 lb 9 year old black Lab, a 108 lb 3 year old Golden Retriever, a 5 year old 55 lb Doberman mix, two 13 year old Tabby cats, a 10 year old Flame Point Siamese, and a two year old Russian Blue. The pets have always done well together in the past, but we couldn’t predict the results of the addition of a 3 legged, 70 lb Golden Retriever puppy. Result: short tree, with access blocked by the couch.
I knew that this Christmas would be different for another reason as well. My daughter is in a serious relationship, and I have always known that we would end up sharing her at holidays – it’s the only fair thing to do. Sharing seemed more than acceptable when my daughter brought her boyfriend home for the entire Christmas holiday last year, and at Thanksgiving when they came and stayed for the entire holiday. And then came this Christmas, when my daughter called and said “Mom, we’re going to D’s mom’s for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, and then to you for Christmas dinner. Ha! Sharing didn’t seem like such a great idea then…but I’m a grownup and so is J, and so we adjusted. We were both swamped with end of semester stuff, and both had really bad colds, so we moved VERY slowly into preparation mode…so by the evening of the 22nd, we had a small tree in a stand on the patio ready for lights, and a plan for slowly finishing preparations through early Christmas day – decorating on the 23rd, cleaning on the 24th, and wrapping and cooking on the 25th. And then on the evening of the 22nd, she called to announce that they had changed their minds and were coming to us first – after work on the 23rd. A house has never been cleaned and decorated and presents wrapped in such a short period of time in my entire life!!
Christmas Eve went well -New Years Eve shopping for my daughter and I, naps for the guys, followed by a special dinner and laughter with family and friends. The presents all went over well, the dogs enjoyed all the paper remnants, and we had a lovely Christmas morning breakfast. The kids left for D’s family for Christmas lunch and dinner, leaving us with their pets. SO far, Em’s elderly cat is enjoying spending a little time outside, and her 108 lb Golden Retriever is getting some much needed exercise, running around the one acre yard barking at all of the wildlife and digging holes all over. She is the alpha dog, and has been since she arrived on our doorstep at 10 weeks old – none of our pets and none of the neighborhood dogs have questioned it. Her assurance is having an impact on Lucky, since she wears him out by staying busy, and puts him calmly in his place when he becomes a maniac. On a final note, my husband gave me a T-shirt with the slogan below – do you think I could get away with wearing it to work at the Ask – A – Librarian desk on a Saturday?