Abby's First Christmas

All the girls pose in front of the Christmas tree

We had a long Christmas holiday this year. It started in mid-December. Shannon was in the process of moving to a new job. She had already left her previous job but wasn't starting her new one until after the New Year. With some extra time off she decided to come out for a week to visit. She came early so that she could head back to the midwest and be in Madison with family for Christmas and New Years Day. While she was here it was finals week at University of Idaho so Sandy was done with the class that she teaches. Except for grading exams she could spend the days doing things with Shannon. I had to work a couple of evenings since Ivan had already left to spend the holidays in Mexico where it was warm. Still we did have one night when Sandy and Shannon met me downtown after work for dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. It's a good choice for special occaisions and as expected our meal was excellent. They have an early bird special that is actually quite reasonably priced.

On Shannon's last evening before she flew home we exchanged a few presents. Sandy, Shannon and Abby posed for pictures in front of our miniature Christmas tree. Abby will eat just about anything and we didn't think Christmas ornaments would survive the season if she could reach them. So we had to settle for a small tree that was set on top of an end table. It wasn't completely out of Abby's reach but at least the ornaments weren't tempting her by hanging right in front of her nose.

Hey, I think that present is for me!

Usually we like to put our presents under the tree well before Christmas but as much as Abby likes to eat paper and chew on cardboard boxes, we knew that would be a bad idea. We waited till Christmas Eve and only put them out about an hour before we were going to open them. Even then we kept a close eye on Abby while we opened a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for our Christmas toast, a nice Sancerre that we had been saving for a while.

Apparently that was too much of a distraction for us. When we sat down to open presents, Abby had already grabbed one. It was a small one, just a gift receipt printed on a sheet of paper, folded and then wrapped up. Abby had managed to get the wrapping paper off and it was nowhere in sight (she must have already eaten it). She obviously has a soft touch to be able to completely remove the wrapping paper. Half of the printout was eaten too. I could tell that it was a Kindle eBook for me, but not what the title was. Fortunately since it was an electronic book there was no loss. But that was just the start. I found another present under the tree that had a significant piece chewed off. And later, when we had finished opening presents, Sandy figured out that one was missing. We hadn't even seen her but Abby had managed to eat another printout of some computer games gifted on Steam. We should have known that you can never let your guard down for even a second against Abby. She is always alert and always looking for opportunities for mischief. She is nine months old but she is still very much a puppy. There is a reason one of her nicknames is "Monster".

The Christmas Present Monster claims this present

Everyone likes Christmas but it is the most fun when you have little kids. This was Abby's first and even though she helped herself to some presents that weren't hers we had some gifts for her. Sandy got her a nice holiday scarf. Laney would always wear scarfs and appreciated the extra attention she got for wearing them. But Abby is not a scarf girl. As soon as Sandy put it on her she was trying to chew the end of it off. She also got some new toys that were meant to be chewed and she seemed to like those a lot better. Although it was just the three of us we had a nice Christmas.

Late that night, long after Sandy and Abby had gone to bed, I was trying out one of my new computer games when I had a thought. One of the presents that I gave to Sandy was a pair of earrings that I bought at a craft fair on Vancouver Island during our summer trip there. I didn't remember her openning them. It was a very small package so I figured that it could have gotten mixed in with all the discarded wrapping paper and accidentally tossed out. I went out to the recycle bin in the garage (where it was quite cold!) and dug out every scrap of wrapping paper that I could find. Then I did the same for the garbage bin. There was no sign of the earrings.

Someone chewed this present. Imagine that!

The next morning I asked Sandy about it and she didn't remember a pair of earrings. They were definitely missing. Apparently Abby had been busier than we thought. Now we were a little worried. Abby eats paper all the time and it seems harmless, but the earrings had metal ear hooks that might get caught and cause a problem.

A few months before, Sandy and a friend had been sewing when they dropped a stick pin. Abby must have grabbed it right away because they couldn't find it on the floor. She kept making funny coughing/sneezing noises so we figured that she had swallowed the pin and it got stuck. We took her to WestVet - the local Doggie Emergency Room. Sure enough, the Xray showed the pin. She must have had trouble swallowing it and then tried to cought it out. It was lodged in her nasal passage in the top of her palate. The vet had to anesthetize but then was able to remove it easily. There was no permanent damage, just a tiny pin prick. Still, it had been scary and could have been a lot worse. We have a friend at work who owns a dog that needed intestinal surgery to remove something that he swallowed that caused a blockage.

Abby plays with one of her new toys

Now we were worried that if she had gotten the earrings out of the wrapping paper, they could easily have gotten lodged somewhere in her system. We started to watch her carefully for any sign of something wrong. We took her for two walks on Christmas Day because she almost always does a job when she goes for walks. She seemed to be fine with no blockage or blood. She was her usual prolific self. Sandy even went above and beyond the call of duty and carefully looked through all of her poops. She did find one earring hook (Aha! Guilty!) although the other one never turned up.

Two days later she had an appointment at her regular vet for a shot. We talked to the vet who said that if there had been no problems for several days Abby was probably ok. She suggested feeding her extra dog food for a few days to make sure that anything foreign would be flushed out of her system. Abby was definitely ok with that prescription!

Like I said, Christmas is the most fun when you have little kids.