I have never known a dog who enjoys Christmas quite as much as my dog Lucy. I believe if she could figure out a way to write a letter to Santa Claus (or in her case, Santa Dog) she would. Because she not only receives a couple of Christmas presents each year, she makes it quite clear that expects them.
Her interest begins the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, when we put up the big tree in the living room. Lucy is right there, checking out the ornament boxes, sniffing at the strands of lights, and generally making herself useful by being constantly underfoot while we are hanging the fragile antique ornaments I love so much. And if we have put out a plate of cheese and crackers to go with the champagne we sip while we are decorating our tree, she makes sure she gets her fair share of the food, whether we actually offer it to her or not. She is fast and our coffee table is conveniently low.
Still, she doesn’t get truly excited until closer to Christmas day, when we start placing our wrapped gifts under the tree. She gives the wrapped boxes a quick sniff, and if they smell interesting enough, perhaps a quick lick as well, just to taste. It’s the gift bags she’s really interested in, because she knows that her gifts always come in a gift bag. Each and every gift bag placed under the tree gets a thorough inspection so that she can assure herself that its not the bag that contains her gift. Don’t ask me how she can tell the difference between a sealed gift bag that holds a scarf for my daughter or a stuffed toy squirrel for her just by smelling, but she does.
Sadly for Lucy, she has to wait until Christmas morning before the presents from Santa Dog arrive. (And they can’t be put under the tree until that actual morning, usually when she’s out in the back yard for a potty break, or she will open them before we want her to. We found that one out the hard way.) But when the big morning finally comes and everyone is assembled in the living room to open gifts, Lucy is always the first one at the tree, joyously nosing through the stack of presents until she finds the two that are hers. She always opens first, plunging her face right in the gift bag to get at her toy, then settles down to a happy morning of destuffing her toy squirrel while the rest of us open our gifts.
Lucy is fourteen this year and is really starting to show her age, so there is something bittersweet about this Christmas, because we know full well that it might be her last. She’s at the age where it’s easy to forget the stolen Christmas cookies, the gingerbread house she helped herself to a few years ago, and all of her other holiday transgressions. We’re just glad that she’ll be here this Christmas with her bad little self, and who knows? Santa Dog may even bring her three gifts this year.