Maintaining your holiday shopping list, cooking agenda, airport pick-up schedule and your sanity on a daily basis is a full-time job when the kids and pets aren’t on holiday overload, but when they are, it can be a nearly impossible task.
When kids are excited, their voices are higher and faster. They run more, shout more and fall apart more often. And the dogs pick up on it. They, too, run more, chase more and lose control or become overwhelmed more easily. Then add in some visitors, candles and tinsel - now you have the perfect recipe for holiday mayhem.
Don’t invite the dog.
If you’re planning to host a holiday soiree, make arrangements to keep your dog out of the party. While it’s fun for most humans to socialize in a crowd, it can be overwhelming for your pup. Options include crating your dog with stuffed chew toys in a quiet room away from the festivities or hiring a dog walker or recruiting a friend or family member to take your dog on a long walk just before the party starts.
Upon return, your dog will be tired and more interested in a nap than in sniffing your guests or stealing hors d’oeuvres. You could even board your pet for the evening at a friend’s house or a reputable kennel. (Note: Kennels don’t take kids or in-laws. I’ve asked).
Adventures in Babysitting was only a movie.
With kids delirious with holiday excitement, the babysitters we hire to care for them while we attend to our seemingly never-ending lists of holiday social obligations, often have their hands full. My kids routinely whine and wheedle their way into making holiday crafts with my sitter and staying up way too late to watch Christmas specials on TV.
Handling wound-up children is one thing, but saddling my favorite teenager with an excited dog is quite another. Make sure your sitter, first and foremost, is comfortable with your dog, whether you have a 4 lb. Chihuahua or a 115 lb. Rottweiler (that’s me!). Then instruct her how to ask your dog to sit, down, stay and leaveit; how and when to let your dog out to go to the bathroom, and any other special considerations or concerns you have for your canine.
A little due diligence in the beginning can save you a sitter and a headache in the long-run. (Note: Overpaying helps too!)
Trying to be nice can land you on the naughty list.
A small person in your life has been dying for a dog for as long as you can remember. Whether they’ve finally worn you down or you’ve had too much eggnog, this is the year you’ve decided to go for it. If you’re planning to get a pet as a holiday present for your children, be sure it is a gift that everyone in your household wants and is equipped to handle. Then put a photograph of a dog in a box and wrap it. Don’t present a live animal on Christmas morning. Assimilating a new pet into your life and household is a heavy task best left for quieter times when total attention can be devoted to your new family member and when your house is free from guests, decorations and parties. Wait until January to embark on that wonderful journey.
When all else fails…
So you’ve read the tips, followed their advice diligently and still the world is crashing down around your ears to the muzak version of Jingle Bells.
When all else fails, put the kids to bed and the dog in his crate. Then make yourself a cocktail and surf the Internet for a big sparkly piece of jewelry. You deserve it!
For the first installment of this story, click here.