The Dog Days Of Christmas

Blue and Ruthie are GSP/Labradors. Young, energetic, and both in training, they belong to our daughter and her husband. This current training requires that they interact with their owners, and no one else, to establish engagement and connection. They came for Christmas to our rural mountain home, and when not outside exercising on a long line, they were in the house, tethered to one of their owners, and smack dab in the middle of the crazy, wonderful family chaos that is Christmas. All of us had agreed to support them in their training efforts, and so basically ignored the dogs the entire time they were here. As counterintuitive as it seems, it was exactly what Blue and Ruthie needed to continue their growth as happy, fun, and loyal family members. It was a challenge to stick with the program, and, as it turned out, everyone was up to the task.

Gracie is our 12 week old chocolate labradoodle. She too is in training, which currently means that her world is pretty small. When not outside with one of us, she lives happily In the laundry room that allows her to see life beyond her world through the mesh of the baby gate across the doorway. Too much stimulation, and her world is turned upside down. Kind of like a kid who has too much screen time, she doesn’t know why she’s a wreck. She just is. We asked people to support us in our training efforts by interacting with her in short visits, with calm, quiet energy, and to basically ignore her the rest of the time. As counterintuitive as it seemed, it was exactly what Gracie needed to continue her growth as a happy, fun, and loyal family member. It was a challenge to stick with the program, and, it turned out, everyone was up to the task.

Christmas was definitely different because of the dogs. Wagging tails threatened wine glasses on low tables, we almost lost the leg of lamb on the kitchen counter to Blue when no one was looking, little Gracie had a couple of accidents when we lost track of time and forgot to take her out, and sleeping arrangements had to change to accommodate the canines.

The dog days of Christmas required that we all adjust, trust one another, and let go of expectations of how things should be, and get on with enjoying them exactly as they were. Which is kind of how life is supposed to be, don’t you think?