Christmas, Marley and Me

Well Christmas can be a confusing time for a dog. So much going on, humans behaving madly, more food than even a labrador can scoff and no routine whatsoever. Watching TV during the day!? Walks at odd hours?!? Eating nonstop!!!!! (and that’s just the humans…)

Our previous dogs are used to Christmas; it’s always low key here and they would go with the flow. Marley by contrast is hyper-interested in everything that happens, he’s always sticking his nose into whatever you’re doing because he has to know what everyone is doing all.the.time. I wondered what he’d make of our little Christmas, it being his first with us.

Luckily for him we had no visitors this year which might have been too much for his little nerves to handle. But he knew something was up when a couple of days ago I started rearranging things and tidying up the house. Part if this also included making him a new kingsize dog bed out of an old mattress topper and duvet cover on top of his cushion which means he has somewhere comfy to sprawl on in the evening. This spot was also traditionally where I put my modest “Christmas Tree” and hanging shiny baubles and fairy lights in front of a dog that likes running off with things  and crunching them up was probably a bad idea anyway. So no Tree here this year; just a not particularly lit-up labrador!

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Yesterday he seemed a bit anxious, picking up on the fact that more people than usual were coming and going, new things were being brought into the house and we were disappearing off at odd times to do chores or visit neighbours to wish them a Merry Christmas. I took him with me for some of these but he was still a bit edgy.

He knew things were really wrong this morning when I rolled out of bed as soon as my alarm went off instead of hitting the snooze button so as to turn on the oven and stuff the turkey. Whilst I was waiting for it to heat up I did other preparations like laying the lunch table so as to leave the morning free for other things – like dog walking! Marley didn’t realise this, he really didn’t approve of me slapping butter and bacon all over something instead of heading outside straight away like usual.

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He tried to get my attention by whizzing his toy up and around for a bit and swuffing at me in that half sneeze-half woof  way he does to try and tell us what he wants.

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But then after a while the early morning cooking session became a lot more intriguing as nice smells started coming from the oven – that big buttery bacony thing didn’t half smell good! Mmmm…

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Does that yummy smell really come from inside that hot box?! Best sniff it again…

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Yup! It really does!

Once the turkey was well under way we had to feed the other animals and straw down the sheep barn and fill up hay nets. Cobweb the pony got a Christmas carrot before she went out to the field. Petunia Pig was quite cheerful today too considering the nasty wet weather! Nothing like a turkey for taking the heat off a porker!!

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So as it was clearly going to drizzle all day we decided to brave it anyway and headed off for a walk to work up an appetite for lunch and take some of the fizz out of Marley.

Come on!! What you doing now!! I’ve been waiting for HOURS!

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Back home again it was time for me to take off the walking boots and put on the apron again. Marley is a good assistant chef – he loves raw vegetables so we experimented with some new seasonal ones. He ate all the sprout trimmings with gusto and much crunching and lip smacking but has decided that parsnip tops are a no-no. Cooking a turkey seems to take an awfully long time without anything interesting happening. But you never know if something exciting might happen so you have to be ready and waiting. There are watchful eyes everywhere.

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And I really do mean everywhere…!

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I managed to work my way through my Christmas Dinner schedule of events despite a slight hiccup over oven temperatures and then it was time to take the turkey out and put it on a plate. This was veeeeeery exciting to my sous chef helper and luckily I didn’t drop it. I did however managed to accidentally tip the turkey juices down the cupboards and onto the floor which suddenly made things really interesting! Marley as ever leapt to offer a helpful paw (or tongue in this case) and started to clear up the mess for me whilst I went to fetch the mop.

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He did a particularly thorough job of cleaning the grease off from round the handles on the drawer fronts too, no slacking here for Helper Marley! He might have just been trying to get closer to the giblets I’d put in his bowl for his supper though…

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After that bit of excitement and getting a taste of crispy skin as a reward there was a funny turn of events as the humans started ripping paper up. Normally Marley gets told off for ripping paper up – so it is a Very Confusing Thing indeed when the humans start doing it whilst laughing and ooh-ing and agh-ing and hugging and generally behaving like idiots. Marley could have told us how much fun ripping up paper was ages ago but would we listen to him?

He even had his own special paper to rip up. He was a bit shy about this in case someone changed their mind and told him to stop but nobody did so when in Rome…

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A little bit of help from opposable thumbs and he was away.

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Oh look! A squeaky armadillo just for me!

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After all this it was time to help the lunch settle and get some fresh air so we went for another walk – much more normal. The usual things started happening again; feeding animals and putting them to bed, the humans sitting down and doing the usual odd things they do in the evening like staring at books and the Talking Box. It’s a bit exhausting this celebrating lark. Time to get onto the new bed with the new toy  armadillo and play quietly and snooze.

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Maybe Christmas isn’t so bad after all!

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