MY HUSBAND loves Christmas; he always has and, to my mind he becomes rather like a child: in the weeks leading up to the big day, he anticipates and relishes every minute! I daren’t go out and leave him unattended during December because it is almost guaranteed that on my return, I will discover that he has gone up into the loft, taken the Christmas tree down and put it up! We have tried many types of tree over the years and now display a somewhat large fibre optic one, a compromise as he always loved having a ‘proper’ tree but I couldn’t cope with the mess caused by shedding pines!

Over the years, we have assembled an array of decorations and hubby delightedly lays out a winter Christmas scene, resplendent with large Santas, reindeers etc. My dogs find it all fascinating and trying to stop Danny, our Welshie, from extracting what he evidently things are toys laid around for his amusement is never easy!

When our grandchildren were younger, a Santa that blew bubbles was also part of the decorations. The Gordons spent ages trying to catch the bubbles much to the delight of the children. I could only stand back and watch the chaos this caused!

I should perhaps point out to you all at this point, that I really am NOT a Christmas person; when my friends and any of those who know me well read this, I am sure that they will all be rolling around on the floor laughing thinking ‘How can she write about Christmas? She does not do Christmas’!

Nevertheless, here I am sitting in front of my computer screen, trying to work out what exactly I can tell you about Christmas and Christmas shopping!

As we have boarding kennels, one of the first things that comes to mind is ‘Fred’, the Miniature Schnauzer, who comes in to board on a regular basis. Over the years, he usually comes in over Christmas, and whenever he is dropped off for his Christmas sojourn, his owner is frequently accompanied by her young grand-daughter, who always very solemnly presents me with a wrapped gift and strict instructions that it is to be given to Fred on Christmas Day. I duly spend time with him in his run and unwrap his gift – believe it or not, for the next 12 months whatever has been his present seems to be his favoured toy for the rest of the year!

Many of you may be surprised to learn that Christmas is in fact quite a busy time in kennels; certainly, in Scotland, Christmas is busy but New Year is hectic! We are often blessed with either a very crisp, bright day or thick snow! I can recall going out to the kennels one Christmas morning, hammer in hand, to wallop all the bolts on the outside kennel doors and run gates to gain access as the frost was so severe they were frozen solid!

The weeks leading up to the festive season are also reasonably busy: dogs are boarded to allow owners to spend time doing their shopping. It seems to have become very popular up here for people to extravagantly fly over to Boston for a few days shopping; some just spend a couple of days down in Edinburgh or Glasgow, while others go into Aberdeen for a full day of hitting the major stores there, so dogs come into the kennels.

Perhaps you are like me and stand in the endless queues at supermarkets in the week before the 25th, gazing in amazement at those standing in the long queue in front of you, whose trolleys are overflowing? The shops are only closed for one or two days nowadays, so why the need to practically panic buy?

I am sure that you are all far more organised than I have ever been and have everything prepared well in advance. My next tale of Christmas is when I decided that I would utilise what I thought would be the ‘easy option’ and order all the family’s Christmas presents online. Going on to the site of one of the major retailers, I gaily submitted my order and got an email back confirming that everything would be delivered in time for Christmas. Well, that has been really simple, I thought, now I just have to wait until Christmas Eve and everything will be delivered, all pre-wrapped and I can just forget about it.

Needless to say, closing time on Christmas Eve arrived with no sign of any of presents! I always do the kennels before we open any gifts and to say that I stomped around in a fit of temper would have been an understatement; how could I explain that I had bought stuff but it just had not been delivered? I pity the people who staffed the retailers call centre over that particular Christmas as they were continually trying to placate a very stroppy me on the phone! When did everything arrive? January 14th, two days after the couriers in Scotland returned to work!

This seems to have been very much a ‘one off blip’ as I have constantly ordered things since then over the internet and have found that the service received, particularly from canine related companies is excellent. In fact, I will no doubt be taking the easy option again this year!

Do you buy presents for your dogs? I will have to admit that although I tend to have a rather cynical attitude, I usually do! Whether it is simply chew sticks, toys, new collars or whatever, husband or grandchildren enjoy ‘helping’ the dogs open their presents.

Having the kennels means that we are pretty well tied to remaining here, so sometimes the family descend on us and I have the added task of preparing the family meal while still trying to juggle the work in the kennels. Thankfully, our grandchildren are now old enough to know that new toys must not be left lying around or they will be pinched by the dogs.

One of the really nice things about having dogs around at Christmas, I think, is that either before or after your Christmas meal, you can load the car up with the dogs, and the children when they are here, then go out and enjoy a pleasant walk along the beach or in the Forestry. Perhaps as a kennel owner, I shouldn’t say it but I do think that it’s sad that people put their dogs into board ‘just for Christmas’ as they miss all the pleasure that can be gained. Never mind, it does give my income a nice boost!

I guess what I need to do now is nip out to do the Christmas shopping – I wonder if I can manage to put a padlock on the attic door? Otherwise I know that hubby will have sneaked up to the loft and the Christmas tree plus all the other decorations will be up by the time I get home and there are still a few weeks to go!


© Bonnie Scougall 2018