My German Shepherds, Fritz and Mina, love the holidays. While they’re very intuitive and sensitive, absorbing and reflecting the extra gaiety and joy of the season, they also have been known to land on Santa’s “naughty list.” Here are some of my dogs’ Christmas capers — and some shared by friends, neighbors and family — that might sound all too familiar.
Countdown to a vet visit
When my first German Shepherd, Greta, was an 18-month-old monster — er, I mean puppy — she discovered and ate 23 days’ worth of advent chocolate from two advent calendars. No dashing through the snow on a sleigh for her that night but rather a quick dash to the vet in the pouring rain.
Holiday attire optional
My childhood dogs, Smokie and Laddie, were a canine Abbott and Costello duo. The first year my family bought matching holiday sweaters sporting a very cute snowman was also the last. The morning after their first wear we discovered the last tear. Laddie had pulled Smokie’s sweater off of him and ripped it to shreds before doing the same to his own — the proof of the guilty party was in the poop.
Tree ornaments = treats
There’s a three-panel meme familiar to Shepherd owners: Panel one shows an adorable puppy, panel two shows a scary velociraptor and panel three shows a calm, adult dog. My girl Mina was the embodiment of this when she was a terrible teenager. During her first Christmas with us, she ate all the fabric ornaments off the bottom third of the Christmas tree.
During their first Hanukkah in our neighborhood, Emily and Joshua’s bouncing baby Boxer named Chad, who is now a subdued mature adult, ate six of nine menorah candles that all happened to be different colors. It all came out OK in the end, though.
Snowman’s gotta go
Girlfriend Mary’s Doberman Pinscher hated the blowup snowman in her front yard. Haaated it. Barked and growled at it constantly. After one fateful trip to the grocery store when she was unloading bags from her car and through the front door, Charger blasted past her, tackled the snowman and flat-out killed that sucker. Salvage was not an option.
Roast beast binge
Teddy, owned by my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, was a big, sweet pushover with a passion for grand theft food. One Christmas Eve, while guests were chatting in the dining room, she stealthily stole an entire huge roast beef from a serving platter in the kitchen, cuddled up to it underneath the coffee table and proceeded to consume it all.
Stealing Santa’s cookies
My Aunt Marlene’s terrier, Sam, was grumpy. He just was. Even after eating an entire plate of holiday cookies meant for Santa. But this furry grinch’s plan to foil Christmas failed … it still came, of course.
Potty party foul
My friend Melissa loves to tell the tale about how her pup Tampa Bay pooped on her mother’s white carpet in front of the hors d’ oeuvres. Grandma wasn’t run over by a reindeer, but she sure was bowled over by this party foul.
All gifts were for me!
You knew this one was coming. How many dogs have done this?! We all know one. My brother’s dog, Ted the Bernese Mountain Dog, just couldn’t wait for Christmas morning the year he came to live with my older sibling. Ted promptly ripped to shreds every scrap of wrapping paper adorning at least a dozen packages that had just been placed under the Christmas tree at approximately 10 p.m.
But I wanted to shepherd the sheep
Finn, another friend’s Australian Shepherd, wanted to get up close and personal to the cast of characters, human and animal, in his family’s nativity scene, and herd them all — right off the living room shelf and straight into his mouth. Sadly, not one survived, as each piece was carefully chewed beyond recognition.
Lights looked like candy
I can understand a dog’s attraction to illuminated Christmas or Hanukkah lights. They’re bright, sparkly and mesmerizing. So attractive, in fact, that they must be delicious. Enter Hank, my cousin’s Irish Setter, who was not known for his smarts. My cousin takes her sweet time decorating two trees in her house, and sometimes stuff that hasn’t found its place on the trees is left out for the next day. One Christmas, Hank must have been feeling bored and hungry, because he ate or destroyed most of a roll of unplugged white lights.
I’m no fan of the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon, and neither is Jasper, a friend’s Great Dane. To Jasper, this elf is nothing more than a creepy interloper who has no place in his mom’s home. Sometime after my friend carefully strategized and arranged the elf for the first time for her kids to discover the next morning and went to bed, Jasper gingerly took the offending elf from an intricate display and beheaded him. He didn’t consume any part of it … just separated the elf’s head from its body and left both pieces outside my friend’s bedroom door to let her know in no uncertain terms what he thought of this “thing.”
Do you have a holiday fail story about your dog? Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.