Sgt. Thomas Tibbs hates Christmas. I'm sorry. He does. That is not my snowman in that photo, but that is definitely Thomas attempting to, once again, slink away while I'm trying to take a photo. This is one of the downsides (really there are so few! Maybe a handful at best! Okay, honestly, the list is long, but who cares?) of deciding that a feral dog is your best buddy. First of all, he's never learned "sit." Telling him that and doing that age-old motion of pulling up on the leash while pushing down on the dog's hindquarters scares him enough to put him in That's-it-I-mistrust-you-again mode. He knows "wait" as a command when I drop the leash, but... yeah, he's only going to hold that wait as long as I'm close enough to step on the leash if he starts walking. That cute snowman is on my next-door-neighbors' front lawn. Their house looks beautiful, so I positioned said feral dog first near the sleigh... but no, he wasn't having it... then by the snowman... again, he was quite insecure about it. So every time I tried to back up into the street and take the iconic "Look! It's Christmas! Here's my cute dog!" photo, he would slowly start idling toward our front porch next door. I don't blame him. I understand. He fears the snowman. He fears all the bright shiny tinkling twinkling moving singing Christmas decorations.
And that's so sad. Because I love them. So, full disclosure here, I've been tormenting my best buddy every night by making him take long walks around my neighborhood so I (selfishly) can look at the lights and tell him (quietly) "Thomas, that's so cute, though! Why you scared o' him?" Poor guy.
The girls, on the other hand (Princess Purrl and Sugar Plum), are in love with Christmas every year. Mostly because of the wrapping. Also because of the ribbons. Definitely because of the fuzzy feathered catnip toys their Big Sister Nic brings them:
This is Purrl's favorite position in the morning, by the way: Bottom to heater. We've been waking to temps in the 30's, so I don't blame her. In this photo, she is jealously guarding this toy so Sug can't get it. Naughty....
On the upside for Thomas, though, I do have to say this has been a great year for him. Since I no longer leave the house to work, we've bonded even more, and we often take long walks out in the country where he feels much more comfortable than walking where there are terrifying things such as people and flags and Christmas decorations and ducks and other dogs and lawn ornaments.
What he likes most, though, is to ride in the extra cab of the truck, looking at everything from the place where he feels safest in the world. So yes, I'm still driving him around every afternoon when we go to fetch the mail. "Thomas, ride?" is all I have to say. He trots down the hall, out to the garage and jumps in the truck--if the door is open. If it's not, he dances, shifting his weight from one front foot to the other while shaking his head in delirious joy. Riiiiiiide!
And now he plays. He has created a game that he adores. I'm not sure how it started, but he will often run for the bedroom when he sees me getting the leash. (Yes, I know; he's the opposite of most dog-buddies.) It makes me laugh, and some weeks ago I told him, "I'm going to get you!" which made him laugh and wag his tail--and run away faster. So now it's a game. I pick up the leash and he gallops down the hall to the bedroom, spins around in a circle and does a dog bow. I follow, then I turn and run back down the hall and he chases me. I stop when I get to the kitchen, turn and say, "I'm going to get you!" and he tears down the hallway again, wagging his tail furiously. It's hilarious. And man, does it ever make me happy to see him happy.
Oh--there is that other game he plays. Possum. You know how most dogs get excited in the morning when their human gets up? It's time to go outside! Yes! Pee time! Hooray! Major sniffs and leg hiking and all that! Not Thomas. He waits for me to come and sit beside his bed and rub his back and scratch his ears and massage his head until he finally rolls over on his back and laughs and says, "I have the best life in the world!" as he wraps his front paws around my arm.
Yes, yes he does. The new year marks the end of his fourth year with me. He was living as a wild dog for at least five before he was rescued. So I tell him often: "You've gotta have at least five good ones, buddy, to make up for the five awful ones." We're working on it.