By LuAnn McLain
"I'll be home for Christmas" seems to be the theme running through my mind for some reason this year. It brings up the question to me of "where" home is.
My family moved a lot when I was young and continued after I left home. When parents divorced, it really left no specific physical or geographical location to call home.
So home is here in Havre. I have lived here for more than half my life. As far as I'm concerned, a place to call home doesn't get any better. Havre doesn't have everything but it's got enough of the right stuff. I guess home is where the heart is, so if you can't actually be at home, your dreams can let you be there.
If your house is where everyone comes home to for Christmas, you may be interested in easing your pets through the season.
We'll be home for Christmas this year and it appears we will have visitors and maybe even some little ones. Since our animals are not especially used to a lot of company and have not had much exposure to kids, we will be taking some precautions to try to minimize the stress level of everyone.
Most pets can breeze through company, strangers, etc., without a hitch, but not all are so adaptable.
The hustle and bustle of the season can be confusing to pets. Many people coming and going, some of them strangers to the animals, can be upsetting.
Cats may be disturbed by all the "new" stuff in the house. The tree, the gifts, luggage, furniture moved, boxes being delivered, as well as strangers in the house.
Dogs will probably be more affected by the strangers. Delivery people and visitors might trigger a dog's protective nature.
Squealing, screaming, running, shouting children can be a catastrophe. Some pets could be frightened while such activity in some dogs triggers an attack.
An unwilling cat can leave deep wounds when grabbed by anybody he doesn't care to be touched by and may attack if cornered. Toddlers are great at grabbing and for following an animal around.
Small children should always be supervised around pets. Any pet should be watched when around strangers and should have limited contact, if any, should he exhibit any behaviors such as growling, stiffness, etc.
Be sure to instruct visitors about the "rules" of the house for pets. Perhaps cats are not allowed outside or table scraps are a definite no-no for the dogs.
Letting company know about these things can make things run smoother. Sometimes little signs can help remind, such as a sign on the door saying "Don't let the cat out!"
Keeping pets away from people coming in and out can help prevent animals accidentally escaping and reduce the chance of a dog acting defensively.
Try setting up an area just for a pet where she can be away from the noise. Provide water, food if appropriate, the pet's bed or belongings for comfort, and a closed door. This may be necessary for the entire time company is in the home or it may be enough to provide a haven for a few hours when the pet appears tired of attention.
Enjoy being home for Christmas!
If you would like to write to Pawsitively Pets, please send your letter to P.O. Box 1731, Havre, MT 59501.