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Who do you spend Christmas with?

If you celebrate Christmas, what does it mean to you?

A day to spend with family?

Loads of prezzies?

Overindulgence in food and drink?

A baby in a manger?

Great television?

Being forced to play charades?

Whatever else Christmas means, it often means compromise. Do you spend it with family or friends? If it’s family, your own or your in-laws? And what if your family includes dogs or other pets? And what if not all your family appreciate your dog(s)? Things get complicated very quickly, and there is a huge scope for feelings being hurt.

“What do you mean you want to bring your dog into my house?”

“What do you mean my dog isn’t welcome in your house?”

“You want me to shut my dog away in another room in their own house?”

Priorities differ, and arguments ensue. Fortunately, our dogs are oblivious to most of this, but we can become deeply entrenched in disagreements. No wonder the option of staying home alone with our dogs can seem so attractive.

According to the charity Support Adoption For Pets, 20% of us would rather spend Christmas with our pets than our family. Are you surprised? I am. Frankly I’m surprised it’s not more than 20%.

Our pets, particularly dogs, are there for us day in day out. When we’re happy, sad, healthy, ill, cheerful, grumpy, relaxing or rushed off our feet our dogs are right there alongside us, sharing in the good times and the bad. I look at it this way – those who are there for us in the lows deserve to get the highs. So there’s no way I would abandon my dog on an important day.

Thankfully, I get to spend my Christmas with my dogs and my family; I don’t have to choose. But if push came to shove, and I had to make the decision, I really couldn’t bring myself to leave my dogs home alone all day – even if we kept popping in to give them toilet breaks. And I certainly wouldn’t put them into kennels over Christmas.

Fair enough, they don’t know that Christmas is any different from any other day, but I do. It’s a special day to me, and for that reason I want it to spend it with the people I love most. For me that’s my family; and some of my family happen to have four legs.

But let’s not forget those pets who are still waiting to become part of someone’s family. Because there are many animals in rescue, and if you’d like to help them, over the festive season Support Adoption For Pets will be raising money inside Pets At Home stores nationwide, to provide 2.4million dinners for abandoned pets over Christmas.

For those shopping in Pets At Home throughout December, customers will be given the opportunity to support the Santa Paws appeal simply by donating 50p (enough to fund one Christmas dinner for a rescue pet) at the till point. Pet lovers can also donate £3 by texting BOWL01 £3 to 70070, or an amount of their choosing online at www.supportadoptionforpets.co.uk/santapaws

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