Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A traumatic visit to St. Nicholas

This year was Sephiroth's first Christmas (he turned 10 months old on Christmas Eve) and since we do not have any children, he is like our child. We tried to have an exciting first Christmas for him. We all built a snowman together, he went with us to pick out a Christmas tree, he helped decorate the Christmas tree, he got a stocking filled with gifts and he even got to visit Santa Clause.

Our local Chow Hound pet store was hosting a pet day where you could bring pets in to get their picture with Santa Clause and get microchipped which was sponsored by a local animal shelter. I thought this would be a great event to take Seph to since he needs a microchip and he hasn't been out much to socialize since going to the dog beach this summer. This fun activity turned out to be a disaster and I think my dog is traumatized and will never go near a man with a flowing white beard again! First of all, we got to Chow Hound and there were about a million dogs there with their people. We weaved through the store in search of St. Nick and finally located him at the back of the store. The whole way there, Seph was pulling left and right trying to sniff every dog in sight. I think he needs more practice on the leash. The dog weighs over 110 lbs so far and the linoleum floors in that place were slippery so I felt like I was water skiing behind him through the store. As we made our way towards the end of the line, a six foot tall hound dog walked towards us waving and doing goofy things with his paws. It was the Chow Hound mascot. I could not find a picture of him to put on the blog, but he looked something like this...
Only he wore a Chow Hound Shirt and was way creepier! I don't think Seph had any idea what to think about this human size stuffed animal that was waving at him and seemed to be taunting him with his paw gestures. The fur stood up on the back of Seph's neck and shoulders and he started barking at this intimidating hound. At this point, everyone in the store is looking, as Seph has about the loudest deepest bark a dog can have. The plush hound attempted a truce by throwing dog biscuits at Seph and retreating to a safe distance.

We finally made it to end of the line that wound around the store to see Santa. In front of us was a basset hound with a U of M sweater on and droopy eyes with his weener dog sidekick who was wearing a Christmas sweater. Seph kept eying the weener dog..I think he thought he looked like a Snausage wrapped up in Christmas paper. Behind us was a white fluffy dog wearing an elf hat in the arms of its person. Behind them, was a young couple with a cute black puppy...Seph tried sniffing him, but the girl not so discreetly told her significant other to pull there puppy away from our monster. Poor Seph...he is too big and curious for his own good. While waiting in line, which was roped off with those velvet rope things, people continually walked by with their dogs and wanted to pet Seph which caused me to wined around and and dodge the velvet rope and poles like a crazy pole dancer. We finally got up to Santa, who by the way was very sweaty and looked like he didn't even like animals. It reminded me of the scene from a Christmas Story when Ralphie gets up to see Santa and his mind goes blank and everyone is loud and obnoxious. Seph took one look at the sweaty Santa and attempted to run the other way. We tried to bribe him with treats and toys but he wanted nothing to do with the perspiring Saint. There were lots of people in line and the situation was getting stressful. I had hoped to send the picture out in our Christmas cards and for an instant I thought that traumatizing my dog may not be worth it. Finally the photographer and his helper, who both seemed frustrated, dragged Seph close enough for Santa to get a death grip on his collar and straddle him between his sweaty legs. The photographer snapped a few pictures as the helper called Seph's name and waved loud squeaky toys and treats in the air. Despite the helpers desperate circus performer attempts to excite Seph, he continued to put his ears back and his tail between his legs. The photographer snapped a few pictures, and although none of them turned out how I hoped, I could no longer let Santa and his crazy elves torture Seph. I picked the best one out and here is what it looked like...
Needless to say, I did not use it for our Christmas cards. I don't think this pictures is flattering to either Sephiroth or Santa. Santa's strained, sweaty smile (if you can call it that) was forced at best and Sephiroth looks like he just got done running a marathon and is about to have a heart attack! Notice Seph's tail pathetically tucked between his legs....so sad. After the traumatic photo session, we picked up our picture which came in a cute frame pictured below and a doggie goody bag.
I thought the craziest part was over, but the adventure was just getting started. We then proceeded to find the microchipping booth as the fluffy white dog in the elf hat was posing perfectly with Santa behind us. We wound through the crowd of dogs and people and I tried my best to stay away from the six foot hound to avoid another scene. We finally made it to the front of the store to the microchipping booth. Both the ladies who were doing the microchipping were very nice and one of them even had a great dane. She said she was used to a strong dog and offered to hold Seph's leash while I filled out the necessary paperwork and paid. This was a wonderful reprieve for my hands and arms which were sore from holding onto Seph while he was being overstimulated by dogs and people and sweaty Santas, and mammoth hound dogs. The volunteers went to give Seph the microchip between his shoulder blades (I don't know if you have ever seen a microchip needle, but it is about the biggest needle you can think of...It reminds me more of a swizzel stick or coffee straw).
As the needed pierced his skin, he jumped causing the needle to go in a little farther than necessary. I could see a little blood on Seph's grey coat. The volunteers apologized and said that it might bleed a little, which is normal. It wasn't until they began to blot the blood with a paper towel until I realized how much he was actually bleeding. His grey fur hid the gush of blood and it took 3 paper towel squares to blot it all up. Poor Seph...the trip I had planned to be so much fun, was getting more and more miserable by the second. Luckily they did get the microchip in on that try and did not need to redo it. It is also lucky that he is a big dog and can afford to lose that much blood. We quickly purchased some dog food and treats and left the store. Finally, we were out of that 3 ring circus...but just when I thought nothing worse could happen, we ran into a friend and her dog in the parking lot. As we tried to hug and greet each other in a tangle of fur and leashes, a SUV drove up and honked at us to get out of the way (the holidays are a lovely time, when people are the most giving and gracious...I just love it!). Well anyway, the horn seemed to scare Seph and he went runingn across the slushy wet parking lot as I flew behind him waving and saying goodbye to our friend and her golden retriever. I started to get worried when Seph would not slow down and I was having a hard time stopping him or keeping up with him. Finally my mom who was pushing the cart in front of us grabbed me as I flew by yelling and our weight together stopped Seph.
So this is the end of the traumatic visit to St. Nicholas. I had such high hopes of making it a special Christmas event for Seph. Unfortunately he came out being terrified of fat sweaty men in red suits, life sized stuffed animals, needles the size of crowbars, and honking SUVs. Maybe next year we will just stay home when Santa Clause is coming to town.

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