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Every Day is Christmas!
Ten years ago on Christmas Eve, I had an epiphany. Spending a divine evening at a “Blessing of the Animals” New York City church service, the atmosphere was magically infused with wonder and serenity. This gathering of pets, their menagerie of humans plus pet-less pet-loving spectators (as I was) are treated to songs and sermons about the manger and the bond between humans and animals. The festivities conclude with the human guardians shepherding their pets up the center aisle to be blessed.
That night, when I saw and held an adorable Yorkshire Terrier pup, I asked for his breeder’s contact information. The next day, when I telephoned the breeder, karma was already in motion. She had newborn Yorkie pups that would be ready for adoption in two months. I got busy researching dog care, puppy-proofing every possible danger and purchased pet insurance.
No ordinary looking Yorkie, my JaJa, now 11 years old, has metamorphosed from total puppy noir to her current shade of silver body with namesake Zsa Zsa Gabor-esqe platinum blonde head.
Yes, this blonde does have lots of fun. JaJa is my neighborhood’s “ambassador of happiness” as she shares her love with everyone she meets. Every moment with JaJa has been a joy that’s almost indescribable. My life now seems more in balance, more in the present—I just look at JaJa and little else seems quite so important.
While I wouldn’t change a moment of our life together, JaJa has been diagnosed with lymphangiectasia, a disease where the intestines leak protein instead of absorbing them. Because Mom and Ja’s wise veterinarian work in tandem as a close, caring team, JaJa is doing great. She stoically endures blood tests every month, enjoys four daily meals of special food and is taking the smallest dose of prednisone that keeps her stable.
For most of my life, when asked what I wanted for Christmas, I’d instantly answer, “a puppy”. Each Christmas I get my wish. Every day feels like Christmas. I treasure my album filled with every annual “Certificate of Blessing” and the accompanying photos another dog parent so kindly offers to take.
I can hardly wait for the “Blessing of the Animals” Christmas Eve 2011 – our eleventh Christmas blessing to mutually celebrate.But, JaJa and I are already blessed…we have each other.
Karen L. Miller
New York, N.Y.
Annie, A Special Kind of Cat
Los Angeles, Calif.
Sandy Made Our House a Home
Eight years ago, two of my daughters and I went to our local animal shelter and came home with Sandy, a one year old that had been abused. She was all that we could ask for in a dog; cute, loyal, protective, and a family dog. That next year, while going through a divorce from my then husband, Sandy carried me through some very rough and lonely times, including the first weekend that my four daughters spent with their father. Sandy became something different to each person in my family; a playmate, a friend, and to me, a loyal guardian. She formed a special bond with my daughter, Jessica, who loved to play in the backyard with her, where Sandy would swim in the lake and chase away the ducks.
When I first heard about this contest, I immediately thought that it would be perfect for family, so I began filming little snippets of Sandy which I planned to use in the video. But on Tuesday, December 21, 2010, Sandy developed a worrisome cough and gradually stopped eating her food over the next two days. So on Thursday the 23rd, we dropped her off at our vet’s office, expecting to find out that she’s been spending too much time in the lake or something of that nature. However, that night, that veterinarian called with devastating news that changed our lives forever. Sandy was diagnosed with terminal cancer that had been, unknowingly to us, growing inside of her rib cage and had begun to crush her lungs. We were advised to euthanize her as soon as possible. We took our faithful friend home that night and the next morning, the entire family cried as she slowly went to sleep for the final time on Christmas Eve. Sandy was the best and most amazing friend that I could ever have asked for and she will never be forgotten.
The most memorable Christmas moment that my family spent with Sandy was the very first Christmas after my divorce. Sandy made our house a home and truly was an angel….. I would just like to thank the creators of this contest, because without them, I would never have shot those video clips that my family can now look back at and remember Sandy.
Fort Meyers, Fla.
Belle the Wiley Little Thing
We are a cat family to begin with… there is no doubt whatever about that. That makes conjuring up a holiday memory with the furriest members of the family (not counting uncle Bill) an easy task, but choosing one above all the others is a little tougher. The most appropriate, I’d reckon, took place 15 years ago. It’s the first year our tabby, Grizzabella (Belle) got a taste of a family Christmas. She was just months old ” a gift we as a family got ourselves a few months after losing General. He was a hard-nosed street cat that ended up the victim to some other specimen of southern wildlife. Losing him was the first feeling of real loss I can remember. But I digress.
In ’95 Belle was a nimble, wiley little thing. As a cat person ” those early months are exciting, entertaining, sometimes scary but always memorable. I thought she’d be terrified of a 50 year old Lionel toy locomotive… turned out she loved it. I thought she’d never get into that empty Pringles can… she did ” and seemed quite cozy. Good times ” but the moment my family recalls the most, Is when Belle shimmied up the Christmas tree.
It was Christmas eve… and as is family tradition, we turned out the lights to sit around the tree. Amy Grant’s Christmas album was on. Belle, having trouble maneuvering her tiny frame around the gifts, dug her little claws into the tree and headed up. A few feet off the ground, she ventured onto a limb. My mom, ready with the camera, caught the moment as our kitten looked out at a family geeking out, sharing in her new discovery. Since that moment, every year, we mention that first adventure. Belle made an indellible mark on Christmas at the house. She’s as much connected to the family holiday as is the smell of the tree, the schmaltzy warmth of Amy Grant, and the feeling of having everyone at home to visit. In 2 weeks, at some point, we’ll tell the story again. Belle, now too old to go climbing Christmas trees, will sit as she usually does on the ottoman. Her gift, as it is every year, will be a sea of wrapping paper to explore and conceal herself in as we eat breakfast. Her gift to us though, is a memory and a connection we’ll never forget.
Cats Bring Holiday Joy
A Christmas Pair
It was late evening, only a week before Christmas, when I received the call: Two tiny puppies were in need of foster care. At only a few days old, the brothers needed round-the-clock care ” including bottle feeding, antibiotics to treat the pneumonia they had acquired after being abandoned, and lots of love.
It would have been easy to say, “No ” I don’t have time with the holidays approaching.” Or, “We have too many animals already and I don’t want to get stuck with two more mouths to feed.”
But, to be honest, the thought hadn’t even crossed our mind. When we arrived home, it was immediate isolation for the two brothers. They were starving, wheezing from pneumonia and fading fast. So after a thorough checkup at the veterinarian and a list of instructions, we were in it deep.
After a week, signs of improvement. The pups began crawling, they cried out to us when hungry, and the whining was music to our ears. Whining meant survival and these two were definite survivors.
Christmas Day was their first day out of isolation and the many other animals were happy to welcome out new guests. The cat took it upon herself to guard them, the dogs taught them to play and together they learned new skills ” such as escaping from pens, barking their disapproval, potty training and playing. By the time they reached 8 wks, they were ready to find a new home and within a day, they did.
It was the best holiday gift we’ve ever given to one another, my husband and I, and has since become a new tradition. The first week of December, we check out the most needy animals and provide them a place to stay until we can find them a home. Fostering pets has been an amazing holiday gift ” one that my entire family feels great about. It is, after all, the season of giving.
Queen Creek, Ariz.
Mindy in the Snow & Presents Galore
Pumpkin the Shy NYC Shelter Cat
A Christmas Pet Tradition
Hi, my Name is Tanja and I am crazy about my pets or any animal in general. My extended animal family consists of one German Shepherd, three Cats, and three Chinchillas. Each Christmas, on the 24th of December, we wrap gifts for our pets and share special treats with them. I try and put little Santa hats on the cats and a festive collar with bells on the dog. Afterwards, we take pictures and open their gifts that consist of new toys. My son recently told me that in his next life, he wants to be an animal that is adopted by me. I took his comment as a compliment.
The holidays are about family and my pets are thought of as members of our family. Each year, around the holidays, I support the local Western Pennsylvania Human Society by volunteering for gift wrapping events and walking Dogs and cuddle Cats at the shelter. Additionally, I make blankets and purchase toys for the shelter animals. The gift wrapping events give me an opportunity to discuss pet adoption and to help raise money for the shelter. It is my hope that people will realize the benefits of pet ownership and will consider adopting a pet from a local shelter. Recycled pets are the best.
Jack & His First Texas Snow