Did anyone get a puppy for Christmas? Are you here on vacation with or without your pet? Do you live in town and everyone knows your dog? I can’t stop thinking about animals around this time of year because they tend to deliver some of the greatest stories of trouble, enjoyment and love all in one.

I was running through the years of pet ownership and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at some of the debacles these guys have gotten us into. They always have a mind of their own and tend to get into a predicament no matter how hard we, as owners, try our best to keep them obedient.

A friend of mine has a beautiful, white and golden retriever. She is a looker and one of the prettiest dogs I have seen. And do you know what her favorite thing to do is? Find the dirtiest, muddiest puddle and lay flat into it covering every bit of that gorgeous coat with brown mud! Quite the headache when you offer to take her for a walk.

I have a dog that I share with a friend of mine. Her name is Bootsie and she is a complete misfit. She is smarter than we give her credit for. Our first encounter with her wits happened one day after being left alone when we noticed she had managed to open the refrigerator and even the meat drawer —the one inside that slides open. We walked in and she had herself quite the picnic of lunch meat, milk and even a bottle of ketchup with the top screwed off. Another time when left with the golden retriever mentioned above, Bootsie jumped on top of the counter, opened the cupboards and pulled down a variety of snacks for the two of them. Our friend swore she had opposable thumbs!

What stories can you think of? Have you ever decided to drive instead of fly to accommodate your beloved animal? I remember one year my parents were coming to visit my brother and me for the holidays from Maryland. They had just gotten themselves a new puppy so they opted to drive west. Little did they know what that journey would entail as Emmy, the sweet doodle, decided every move of the drive. Often running away down the halls of the hotel, or circling around the gas station on the leash fighting the push to get in the car. They arrived exhausted and swore to never do that again.

Years ago, my brother owned a Husky. At the time, we lived in San Diego and I offered to watch Kai while he and his wife went away. Kai and I loved to go for morning runs along the beach together. On this particular day we decided ,after the jog, to head into town for a light breakfast. I tied Kai up on a metal chair just outside of a Miss Fields Cookie shop to get myself a muffin to eat at the outside table with him. I was at the counter speaking with the kind cookie lady when, to our surprise, the front door broke violently into millions of tiny pieces. We all ducked at the sound of the loud, sudden noise and when I stood up, there was Kai inside the store, on his leash with the metal chair attached, which had swung as he had moved frightening him and causing the front door to shatter. Later that week we shared that expensive cookie after spending $300 to fix the dang door!

This small town has certainly seen its fair share of funny dog events. I have friend who had a basset hound. Back in the day when he lived at the Miners Union it wasn’t a surprise that Gomez, the dog, would find his way out and wander the streets looking for food. His favorite was to sneak into the kitchen at the Cornerhouse and try with all his might to feast off the line.  More than once he was found and sent back out to the streets where he would try yet another restaurant’s back door before getting caught again.

This is the time of year we make sure we are appreciative of our family and friends and I wanted to highlight our pets as well. Whether it’s a dog, a cat or some fish, these creatures certainly add love and stories to our lives.

If you need to line up a pet sitter for your vacation, there may be a list of rules to keep these dependent friends in line. In any case, I hope this allows for fondness, memories and enthusiasm for those critters that provide us with extra love. And if you are one of the few that doesn’t currently have a pet this is a great time to contact your local pet shelter and bring one home. They will appreciate you for it and may even provide endless entertainment for years to come!