‘Puppy’s First Christmas’

The Bookworm

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

The sound of eight tiny reindeer on the roof of your house will be no surprise to you this year. You’ll be used to insistent little footsteps by then. Hearing noise in the chimney might be of slight concern, but finding someone where he doesn’t belong will be old news.

The sound of jingle bells — or, more likely, squeaky toys — won’t be any big deal, either. That’s because you’ve got a new puppy. He’s just a baby, though, and this is his first holiday season. How can you make it a safe one? Pick up “Puppy’s First Christmas” by Susan Ewing and change “Oh No!” into “Ho Ho Ho.”

Despite what most breeders, shelters and conventional wisdom say, Ewing claims that there’s no problem getting a four-footed baby as a holiday gift. Quite the contrary, she says, some overwhelmed shelters are promoting holiday adoptions, conventional wisdom is changing, and bringing home that Christmas puppy can be a smooth transition if you plan carefully.

Plan. Carefully. Read those words again, then read on …

First of all, it’s natural to want to share celebrations with your new family member, but there are human foods that are dangerous to dogs, puppies in particular. Keep an eye on what guests feed Fido, or invest in some yummy puppy-only treats for your party. Better yet, let friends coo over him, then crate your puppy safely away so you don’t have to worry about him getting hurt.

During gift opening, your puppy will be caught up in the excitement like any child, but be vigilant. Some puppies (like kids) find boxes and wrapping to be just as much fun as the gift itself. Make sure your pup doesn’t eat some of it.

And speaking of decorations, your little one will love all the jingly, dangly, shiny ornaments and frou-frou that accompany the holidays, but those pretty things aren’t so pretty when a pup chews or swallows them. Always keep an eye on your puppy for a cool Yule and beyond.

I had definite mixed feelings about “Puppy’s First Christmas.” I liked it, but … As a new (but experienced) puppy-Mama myself, I can attest that the advice Ewing gives is sound — choosing a breed, basic care tips, obedience training, grooming hints.

Then there’s the controversial part of this book: the words “Plan Carefully” aren’t stressed enough, puppy-as-gift may not be such a great idea after all (but you won’t know ’til it’s too late) and Ewing never addresses puppy-as-surprise for unsuspecting, possibly unwilling, giftees.

Keeping those caveats front-and-center in your mind, though, this most basic of books is helpful for the newbie with a Newfie or the holiday hound in the house.

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