Santa Paws is Coming to Town (Alissa Grosso)

If I had a fireplace, and Santa Claus dropped in by way of the chimney, I'm pretty sure my dog Jack, would do his best guard dog impersonation and bark and growl until Santa headed straight back to the North Pole. The closest we get to Santa around these parts is the oil delivery guy and Jack has, on many occasions, voiced his opinion that this man and his big noisy truck are not welcome here.

Jack waiting to protect me from Santa, oil delivery guys or any other potential threats.

Lucky for Jack that he doesn't need to rely on Santa Claus for his Christmas gifts. That's my job. While many people know December 25 as Christmas, I'm pretty sure Jack considers it New Squeaky Toy Day, and as far as he's concerned there is nothing more exciting than a new toy, especially one that squeaks. One Christmas my boyfriend gave Jack a toy that had 10 separate squeakers in it. My father noted this was something of a passive aggressive gift, my boyfriend not having to actually share a house with Jack and his 10 squeakers.

Jack getting ready to try out a squeaky bone, a Christmas gift I gave him. It only had one squeaker in it.

Jack will be getting a new squeaky toy this Christmas and a tasty new bone to chew. I would say, "Shh, don't tell him," but honestly I think he already knows. It's like when I get a small, heavy, rectangular gift-wrapped package, and I have to pretend like I wonder what it could be, when I know, of course, that it's a book. My parents' old Golden Retriever, Winston, had the Christmas thing so figured out, that one year when the humans were taking too long eating breakfast, he took matters into his own paws, rooted around through the dozens of packages under the tree, found the correct one, tore off the paper and started happily squeaking away. Impressively, the rest of the packages remained untouched.

My cats used to get more excited about Christmas. For one thing, the tree, though artificial was a great source of entertainment. Of course, there was the usual batting of the ornaments off the tree. My cats also enjoyed climbing the tree and sleeping in the branches. There were often fights over who got to sleep under the tree. One year I went away for Christmas, and came home to find the tree on the ground. I don't go away for Christmas anymore.

Sadly, I lost one of my cats earlier this month. I now just have one cat, and he's become something of a crotchety old man. He has no interest in toys. He spends his days sleeping, eating and pooping in inappropriate places. There's a very good chance he'll leave me a present under the tree. Let's just say, I won't be getting excited about it the way Jack does over a new squeaky toy.

My crotchety old man in his more playful days attacking a George W. Bush cat toy (a gift from my parents) while my two girls wait patiently for their turn to chew on the president.

But one gift I am grateful for is all the love, joy and cuteness that animals have brought to my life over the years -- both those that are still here and those that have crossed over the rainbow bridge where every day is like Christmas with new squeaky toys and catnip mice (or presidents, as the case may be) for all.

I'll be giving out lots of gifts this Christmas, but I guarantee that none will be greeted with the joy and sheer exuberance that one small, squeaky present will generate, and so that's why I urge you, if you are able, to give the gift of a warm, safe home to an animal in need be they a shelter cat, a free-to-a-good-home dog or even a pair of stray kittens. And if you can't adopt any new furry friends, please consider your local animal shelter in your holiday gift giving. Even a small donation can help keep the tails wagging and the kitties purring.

May you have a furry (and merry) Christmas!


  1. My rescue cat echoes your sentiments from his spot beneath the Christmas tree, where he likes to lie and contemplate the lights. Or take advantage of the heating vent that's right there.

  2. I love this so much. Jake (my Peke) sounds a LOT like your Jack.


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