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Dog Day

 

Why is there no national dog holiday in the United States? I’m sure there’s a national dog day on the calendar, like there are national pizza and ice cream days, or like there’s an International Women’s Day that Americans never bother to celebrate. Maybe I don’t need a single day to remind me to celebrate my dogs – just like I’ve never felt like Mother’s Day made sense, because my gratitude for Mommy, and for my puppies, is inescapable every day. It would be like having a national Let’s-Watch-TV-After-Work day, or Maybe-Today-We-Should-Eat-Dinner day. It’s a given.

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“Did she say dinner?”

But, if we were going to do a big commercial celebration of Dog Day, with a day off of work, and ritualized outings, what would we include?

We’d probably suddenly realize that there are nowhere near enough dog parks to serve all of the families that want to take their special loved ones out for a run. And we’d have to change all of the no-dogs-allowed rules in restaurants. We’d also have to come up with a very big, high powered pooper scooper, to help us clean up the sand at the beach at the end of Dog Day, or maybe every ten minutes of Dog Day.

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“Where’s the poop?”

There would be a run on bone-shaped aluminum pans at the supermarket, for all of the homemade meatloaf cakes people would be baking, and kibble and cheese and chicken and salmon would all sell out days in advance. Amazon would have to deliver thousands of doggy treadmills, wrapped in colorful bows, that would end up being used as hangers for doggy sweaters and jackets and never get used. People without dogs would have to sit at home and mutter about how there’s nothing on TV that doesn’t remind them of their dogless status, and they’d end up eating one of the leftover meatloaf cakes from the supermarket the next day, because they were on sale at half price.

The thing is, though, I’m not sure the dogs would even notice. They might notice that the dog parks were extra crowded, or that there were more barks in the air than usual, but otherwise, it would be the same celebratory feeling they get every day. The joy they feel when mommies come home from work, or human brothers come home from college for the weekend just to play with them, or when everyone in the family is home on a Sunday morning to eat bagels and give puppy scratches and run around the backyard.

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“It’s dog day?”

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“Yup!”

What I’m saying is, pretty much every day feels like dog day to Cricket and Butterfly, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

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“Are you exhausted? Because I’m really exhausted. This being a dog thing is hard work.”

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“Phew.”

Happy Chanukah

 

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Happy Chanukah!

 

Chanukah, from what the rabbis tell me, means Dedication, as in the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after misuse, when one night’s worth of oil lasted for eight nights. The dogs rededicated themselves by going for their pre-holiday haircuts (and kerchiefing), and Mom started a new tradition of sewing her holiday cards instead of buying or printing them. I’ve decided that I’m going to rededicate myself to joy, and love, and fun. It’s so much easier to dedicate myself to work, or exercise, or obligations, because the internal and external pressures towards those goals are enormous. But fun? The dogs think I have lost too much of my oomph in this area, and I agree.

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Cricket before her haircut,

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and after.

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Butterfly before

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and after.

 

When I was little, my mom used to make scavenger hunts for me and my brother, for each night of Chanukah, as a way to make up for how small our presents were. One night, we split a package of dimes from the bank; one night my father came home with a used VCR for the whole family that someone else was giving away; we got packages of plastic combs, and socks, and small bags of candy. But we didn’t care, because it was the time and care Mom put into those scavenger hunts that was magical to us. She’d write clues on index cards and hide them throughout the house, one card leading to the next, until we found the ultimate prize.

My brother was convinced that the size of our presents meant that we were poor, even thought we had a nice house, and two family cars, and we both went to private school (on scholarships). But really, Mom was so careful with money, because our father was profligate. He put a lot away for retirement, and bought himself presents, and liked to give gifts to other people. He didn’t understand why I would need regular shoes and sneakers. He was especially angry when my feet grew so fast that I needed a second pair of shoes in less than a year.

My brother chose to ignore the profligacy, and focus on the poverty, and aimed for a good upper middle class career in his adult life. I focused on the unfairness, and the confusion, and ended up as a writer and a fledgling social worker.

But both of us love the play time of Chanukah, and being able to remind ourselves of the joy of running through the house looking for those hidden index cards in Mom’s handwriting, letting us know that we were the most important people in the world to her.

The dogs like to think of every day as a scavenger hunt for treats that will magically fall from the sky just for them. They’re pretty sure that every day should be a holiday, full of treats, and love and joy.

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“The treats are coming! The treats are coming!”

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“The treats are hiding under the snow, Mommy.”

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“Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!”