I thought it apropos, since we've been blogging about treasures and memories during this wonderful holiday season, to bring critters into the picture. What greater treasure is there than unconditional love?
Between the end of my senior year in high school and my first year of college, our last dog passed away at the ripe old age of forever and a few days. We held off getting any more pets because of the lifestyle transitions going on at the time, but being "dog" people, that could only last so long. It was inevitable that we'd get another pet, but I didn't know when. As it turned out, my family decided to get me-translation "us"- a dog for Christmas.
And she immediately became my mother's best friend. lol
I can't stress enough that I don't promote giving living creatures for gifts. Too many of them become unwanted pets in a matter of weeks. Anyone who works at a shelter will tell you how it fills up after the holidays. However, this was a situation where our puppy was simply ready to come to her new home so close to the holiday that it just coincided, and quite honestly, even if she'd been the ugliest, smelliest, most obnoxious creature on the planet, I'd have kept her, because she was a dog. My dog. A chihuahua mix I'll call Charity, she was adorable and charming, and, as we discovered through many interesting encounters with men (young, old, tall, short, skinny, chunky, etc.), an unrepentant flirt. She LOVED men. I mean LOVED them. More than me, I sometimes think. She'd stare at them and pose, batting her little doggy eyelashes. Some of them waved. Some waved and smiled. Some waved, smiled, and struck up conversations.
God, what a great little dog.
Beyond Charity's penchant for enchanting the male of any species (including pigeons), she was loving, loyal, smart, protective and sweet--in short, a treasure. She passed away from old age a few years back, but her joining our family that Christmas is a memory I will always cherish, and so, of course, I've done what many writers naturally do with their familiars--I've immortalized her by writing her into a novella.
Who says writers don't have power? lol
Charity is the inspiration for Hark, the three-headed Chihuahua in my latest release, Seducing Gracie, due out in January. Granted, Hark is a boy and has three heads, two of which beat up on the third, but still, she inspired me to write him in one evening as I contemplated the maternal instincts of my lead character, Gracie.
In honor of the inspiration and joy our pets bring to our lives, I'm also posting a link to the Humane Society of the United States' holiday tips for pets page. The holiday season can be a stressful time for humans, with all the changes in everyone's normal routines, the decorations, the different foods, and the excitement, and these things affects pets just as much, if not more.
It's important to try to think and plan ahead, especially if your family is going visiting or will have visitors, and it's also important to consider the hazards that holiday foods and decorations can present to your pets. One Christmas, our other Chihuahua mix, whom I'll call her Faith, was still a puppy and very much into eating anything that dropped on the floor. She ingested a plastic flower-shaped rim to a Christmas tree light that I dropped as we trimmed the tree. In a panic, I called the vet's emergency number, figuring the foreign object would do all kinds of damage, but it didn't. He told me exactly what to do, which was let it pass. It did. Ugh. On the bright side, it did pretty up her puppy poop a bit. Very festive.
Do you have any Christmas memories of beloved pets to share? Do you have any holiday traditions involving your pets, or have you ever incorporated a pet into a novel as a character? I had so much fun with Hark that I'm working on adding another critter to my next novella, Taming Lucy. Perhaps Lucy, a succubus, will have a cat. If she does, it would probably look like the one below. lol Happy Holidays!