What My Dog Taught Me About Enjoying the Holidays
Six lessons from woman's best friend.
Earlier this year, my family lost our dog.
Like most family dogs, ours was loyal and he loved playing fetch. In his younger days, he thought he’d figured out how to jump over a hedge in the front yard in pursuit of a tennis ball—really, he was jumping through it, but that didn’t stop him. He aimed to please, especially if there was a snack at stake. He preferred Pop-Tarts to Milkbones and the crunchy noodles from a Chinese takeout order to kibble. He could always be counted on to get sick in the car—no head-out-the-window-with-his-tongue-out bliss for that guy—which meant that his 15 years of life were more or less contained to the acre-or-so of land on which our home is built. He liked it that way, though. He liked being near us more than fetch and Pop-Tarts and crunchy noodles and jumping over the hedge all put together.
This year, we’ll celebrate our first holiday in more than a decade without Jake. While we shared a special bond with our golden retriever year-round, we feel his absence more as we approach a season that’s so special for all of us, a season that used to get his tail wagging a little extra, too. Anyone who’s ever had a family pet will be as quick as I am to ignore the phrase “just a dog.” Jake left a special (smelly, constantly-shedding) mark on our lives. This time of the year, more than any other, I’m also reminded of the things he had to teach us. Here’s what we learned about the holiday season from our dog.