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A dog's-eye view of December

This canine can't quite figure out his caretakers' silly holiday routine.

By David Martin / December 9, 2008

Rich Clabaugh/STAFF

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Let me introduce myself. I'm Oreo, a 2-1/2-year-old Portuguese water dog currently lodging with a human family of three.

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The family consists of a dad, Dave; a mom, Cheryl; and a 12-year-old daughter named Sarah. For the most part, they're a pleasant bunch, and I generally have few complaints regarding my room and board.

Except when it comes to this time of year. For some reason, the month of December causes my caretakers to go a little crazy.

Early in the month, they erect a tree in the living room. Two years ago, they brought in a real tree and stuck it in a pail by the front window. Dave spent a good hour or two grumbling under his breath and jamming bricks and pieces of wood into the pail to keep the tree upright.

At first I thought the tree was for my benefit. I figured they were providing a place for me to mark my territory so I didn't have to venture outside in the cold. I appreciated the gesture although the appreciation was not reciprocated.

In fact, the following Christmas, the tree wasn't dragged in from outside. Rather, it was taken out of a box in pieces and slowly constructed from bottom to top. Again, I figured this new tree was for my benefit.

But it turns out this new "tree" is no tree at all. I've sniffed and sniffed and sniffed, and as far as I can make out, the thing's made of plastic. Apparently it's there for the family's benefit, although I'm still unclear as to its function.

As the month progresses, the family members add boxes wrapped in colorful paper under the tree. Sarah and Cheryl seem to take delight in this ongoing custom. Dave, on the other hand, keeps muttering something that sounds like a sheep saying "humbug."

Actually, putting the wrapped boxes under the tree throughout the month doesn't happen anymore. I'm not sure exactly why although it might have something to do with my pleasant discovery of cookies in one of those boxes two years ago.

Now they don't put the boxes under the tree until sometime during the last week of the month. One day there's nothing under the tree, and the next morning the floor's overflowing with junk.

I'm not sure what all this activity symbolizes. It doesn't happen any other time of the year, just December. And I'm still unclear as to why these humans go through the exercise at all. Sarah seems to get a kick out of it, but it definitely tires Cheryl out. And Dave isn't fit to talk to until at least January.

The day before all the boxes go under the tree, other humans move into the house for a couple of days. And – wouldn't you know it? – they bring a bunch of paper-wrapped boxes, too.

The day of the boxes under the tree is the craziest thing I've ever seen. Everybody gets up early and even more people show up at the door with – you guessed it – more boxes! And all this stuff ends up under the tree.

What happens next is really quite silly, if you ask me. They spend an hour or so passing the boxes to each other and tearing all the paper off.

I've never pretended that I understand humans. But after 2-1/2 years of living with them, I thought that I had pretty much figured out their routine. Yet this end-of-December madness makes no sense to me.

It all wouldn't be so bad except for what happens next. After the paper-destroying exercise, Dave and Cheryl put a huge, delicious-looking turkey in the oven, where it stays, cooking all day. It doesn't seem to bother them at all, but, as I'm sure you can understand, it's pure torture for me.

With all this madness going on, I'm fortunate if I even get fed and walked. I think I agree with Dave; I could probably do without this annual free-for-all. But every year there's a little box under the tree with my name on it, and what's inside usually tastes pretty good. So maybe this thing called Christmas isn't so bad after all.

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