When we were decorating the house for the holidays this year, I was reminded of this same time back in 2006.
I was just drifting off to sleep when I heard a loud crashing noise coming from downstairs. My eyes shot open, and I sat up in bed trying to decide if my home was being invaded by a robber, or possibly a serial killer. A really clumsy robber or serial killer.
With my heart pounding in my chest, I crept down the stairs holding a Pottery Barn candle holder as a weapon. Then I saw the source of the loud crashing noise. Exhaling, my shoulders slumped at the realization that my home wasn’t being ransacked by a robber or serial killer. This invader was far more dangerous.
“What did you?” I asked, trying to keep my voice from raising along with my blood pressure. “What. Did. You. Do?”
The 10-foot Christmas tree that took the help of three people to haul into my living room, and four hours of meticulous decorating with dozens of delicate ornaments, lights and crystal bulbs was now toppled over and lying horizontal on the ground like a passed-out drag queen after too many eggnog martinis.
Perched just beside the fallen tree with several pine needles sticking out of his fur, a bit of glitter glistening on his twitching whiskers, sat Bailey the cat.
I stared him straight in the eyes and asked again, “What did you do, Bailey?”
He stared right back at me, eyes blinking lazily as if my visible outrage was no more intimidating than an arm wrestling match with Betty White. He didn’t even have the decency to feign remorse by hiding under the coffee table.
If anything, he seemed downright annoyed with me. Bored by our staring contest, he broke eye contact and set about the work of cleaning the glitter and pine needles out of his fur—turning his back to me as if to say, “You have no one to blame but yourself, dumb-dumb. You put a tree in my living room full of sparkly things to play with. It’s like you were daring me to climb it. Idiot.”
Smug little bugger. He was right, though. For me, decorating a Christmas tree was a festive way to bring the holidays into my home. For him though, it was a giant sparkly toy to be played with. Every year since, if I put up a Christmas tree, I make sure to anchor it to the wall and away from furniture.
More than any other time of the year, the holiday season presents a prolonged period of health and safety issues for our pets. From holiday decorations, meals, and visiting relatives, our pets’ daily routines are disrupted with a great deal more sparkly objects, sounds, and social activities—which means there are more chances for them to act in ways they normally do not. Frightened pets are more likely to run away, making the holiday a busy time of year for animal shelters across the country.
If the hustle and bustle of holiday activities is stressful for you, imagine what it must be like for your pets. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you’re celebrating this holiday week with your pets, friends and family:
You may love to treat your pets to holiday leftovers, but any change in diet may cause indigestion. Bones can tear up or obstruct your pet’s digestive system. Cooked turkey bones can easily splinter.
Skip the people food in favor of holiday pet treats. Just be sure to give them to your pet in moderation. A plump figure may be adorable, but if you want your pet to live a good long, healthy life, maintaining a healthy weight is key. Now if only I could apply that to my own diet…
Candy and sugar may give your pet intestinal problems. Chocolate can be especially dangerous for pets.
Crowds and holiday festivities may frighten some animals. If your pet does not like loud noises and large groups of people, set aside a safe and quiet place as a retreat.
Keep all doors closed. A scared pet might use an open door as an opportunity to escape.
Monitor all interactions with your pet around children and new visitors to the home.
^^Health & Safety
Research your local emergency vet clinic before the holidays. Most regular veterinary practices will be closed, so it’s important to know where to take your pet in case of emergency.
If your pet does get lost, please visit sfhumanesociety.org daily. The online list of lost and found animals is updated hourly.
Oh, and by the way, if you’ve been thinking about adding a new member to your family during the holiday season, Santa Fe Animal Shelter is hosting an adoptions event through Dec. 11, sponsored by Bissell. Adult animals adoption fees are waived, and puppies and kittens may be adopted for only $25. There’s never been a better time to bring love home for the holidays!
Jack Hagerman is the CEO of Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society.