I regret placing our twinkling evergreen in the usual place. It’s just beyond the entryway, wedged in a high-visibility spot where two rooms intersect. I totally forgot about our sudden indoor dog track. There’s a good chance our glorious boughs will crash to the floor.
I didn’t think this through, even though ”The Sheriff” was already on schedule to patrol our home through the days of Bing and Burl. He’s our six-month-old “grand dog,” and living proof there’s no limit to enthusiasm-slash-klutziness. Case in point: if Sheriff is happy to see you (of course he is), he’ll jump off the stairs with no advance plan on how to land. Splat. Splay. Roll. HOWDY!
Our tree is not far from the staircase. Plus the wood floors become a skating rink when combined with youthful dog paws. Oh, Tanenbaum.
For these merry days, Sheriff will be on our watch while my son and his college sweetheart immerse in winter break projects. We canine rubes will be watching the exuberant one for long spurts, including sleepovers. We have no instruction manual. We are excited. We are terrified.
This is not just any puppy. I’m talkin’ ‘bout Sheriff. As I’ve mentioned before, he’s already gifted us with some memorable moments. We can’t simply chalk off his hyper-joyous brand to typical puppy behavior; it’s been verified at obedience school that he wears out all other young dogs in his wake.
Even human encounters spark Sheriff to reach HELLO THERE PET ME, PET ME, PET ME BONKERS THREAT LEVEL 10. He freaks out with atomic joy any time he meets a new person. The force of his tail wags could split fire wood.
Again, our tree is in trouble.
I’m not exaggerating. Sometimes, out of nowhere, this 40-pound Catahoula-Beagle-Other-Stuff mix of pure muscle is prone to unpredictable affection outbursts. The last time he was at our house, my husband had plunked on the couch after raking leaves. Sheriff hopped on his lap, all nutso and thrilled. The dog eventually calmed down. But it was a fake-out, a stealthy plan meant to precede The Eruption.
With no warning, Sheriff launched from my husband’s lap, climbed up his shoulder, and in a mountain goat move, he perched on the back of the sofa to steal neck and hair licks. He was a blur. He looped and looped, up and down, lap-shoulder-tippy-top-sofa-tongue-neck-hair and back down again, all while his kiss attack target was weakened with uncontrollable laughter.
I witnessed the whole thing. The only way to describe the scene: dognado.
In wise preparation for the upcoming puppy-sitting gig, we amateurs have been getting some Sheriff training sessions. One day we joined our son and his best friend on a little trip to the fenced-in dog park. We wanted to see what the fella would do unleashed in the presence of other four-leggers.
This was our test run to see if the park could be a viable holiday steam-burning option, a physical experiment on a level somewhere between pouring vinegar on baking soda and summoning the Hadron Collider to rattle the God particle. The experience was much closer to the latter.
Let’s just say that “walk in the park” was the most exciting half-hour of Sheriff’s life thus far. He zigged and zagged between people, fellow mutts and the purest of breeds. To my horror, he collected generous, foamy racing stripes of dog drool along his otherwise pristine torso. A total party animal.
Will I take him there by myself ? Behold the spark notes of my utterances during that baptism by fur: “Oh! Oh no! Watch out! Sorry! Oh! Gah! Sorry! Oh! Let’s get out of here!” We bolted not long after he and another dog formed a rolling canine tumbleweed. They crashed into any living thing or inanimate object in the way.
Which brings me back to our sweetly decorated tree. It’s toast. I know it.
I also know this will be the best Christmas ever.
Reach Denise Snodell at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @DeniseSnodell