Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How to Have a Christmas Tree with Dogs

Its the most wonderful time of the year (unless you live in Maryland, where its the month you are most likely to be shot or beaten for a parking spot at the mall), and for most of my friends, the big talk is how to have a Christmas Tree and dogs in the same house.

While a lot of you that own dogs have obedient dogs normally only found in movies that pose in santa hats for the perfect family Christmas card straight out of the bowels of Normal Rockwell, about 99.93467% of my friends own Siberian Huskies who tend to think for themselves, and they think that peeing on gifts before ripping them to shreds, then knocking down the tree, eating shards of heirloom ornaments and then yakking up a big pile of tinsel at the Vet Emergency Room is a job well done.

For husky owners, trying to outsmart their dogs is akin to trying to outsmart those evil veliciraptors in Jurassic Park, so there have been some major innovations on the Christmas tree protection program.

So when Angela of Fluid Pudding asked the age old question of how to protect her beloved taped up fake but chock full of memories Christmas Tree now that she has 2 adorable and totally innocent non-husky dogs in the house, I told her it was a piece of cake.  If you don't follow Angela, well, you should.  Not only is her blog hilarious, but she videos herself cramming a gazillion marshmallows in her mouth for no real reason... and its totally awesome.

Then she explained that she wanted to maintain the total spirit of Christmas as well... that poses a bit of a challenge, as there are 3,000 ways to protect a Christmas tree from a husky, but it tends to take a bit of the holiday spirit out of a display that looks like a combination of a super max prison and the great wall of China.

I quizzed my dog owning friends for the perfect solution for the Pudding family tree this season and here are the suggestions sorted from incredibly outlandish and doomed to failure, to the winning idea that doesn't require a moat and boiling oil that actually maintains the whole Christmas look and feel.

  1.  Paint Ball Gun:  While tagging your dog with a paint ball gun may provide some relief to the tree and presents, it tends to make a bit of a mess, and also your dog probably won't "get" that the tree spews painful balls of paint at them (because dogs are smart) they'll rightly guess that their human is shooting paint balls at them and will either wait for you to leave the house before gutting the tree and gifts, or (if you own a husky) run around wildly while you shoot at them, causing certain chaos, then roll on your clean white sheets to remove the paint from their fur.  We do not recommend this method.
  2. Convert to Judaism: This is certainly an alternative, but having a lighted menorah is far more dangerous around dogs with wildly swinging tails than a simple Christmas Tree.  Alternative: Buddhism.
  3. Hang the tree from the ceiling: This is certainly a viable solution, but may be confusing to young children who aren't use to seeing replicas of trees attached to the ceiling and could require years of therapy if not prepared for such a sight.  You also risk having a very clever dog who can figure out how to reach it even up there, and there's still the issue of where to put the gifts... unless a hanging bag of gifts (much like camping food stored away from bears) is acceptable.
  4.   Explain the importance of the tree and gifts to the dogs: Ok, stop laughing.
  5. The Army of Four Zim Detection Device: Hang a bell or other noise making ornaments near the bottom of the tree so that if the dogs get too close, you are alerted by the sound and can run in for corrective action.  Of course this will only work while you are at home, and are very fast.  We would like to point out that the Army of Four is suspected of being Labradors in husky outfits and are oddly well behaved.
  6. Hot Wire: wrapping the tree in a low voltage electric fence wire will deter the dogs from approaching or touching the tree.  Dogs are smart and will only require one zap to learn not to touch the tree.  Unfortunately humans are not as smart and will invariably take several zaps before they get fed up and unplug the hot wire.  The dogs are smart and will see you unplug the hot wire and take advantage of the tree at that point.  We really don't recommend this if your pack of dogs is known as "Hooligans" (right Marilyn?)

The final and probably only viable solution is the camouflaged X-pen with slightly raised table solution!

Place your tree on a coffee table and decorate.  Using the tree stand skirt, drape over the table to hide it.  Purchase an X-pen as seen below:

X-Pen $26.00 at any local petstore

Brick patterned paper:

Decorate the x-pen to look like a fireplace, or brick wall, or use wrapping paper with snowmen to hide the prison-like appearance of the X-Pen.

Set up the X-pen to surround the tree, coffee table, etc.  Your gifts, tree and ornaments will be safe and sound for the holidays.

Remember!  Holly is poisonous to dogs!  Don't let them eat tinsel.  Ensure that the light cords are in the X-pen and out of their reach so they can't chew them and electrocute themselves or set the house on fire, or both.  Do NOT let the dogs drink out of the tree holder!  The chemicals used to preserve the tree are toxic.  Never give your dog chocolate, raisins, or grapes.  Don't let them eat tinsel (its very important, which is why I wrote it twice), ornaments, or ribbons.  If your dog eats tinsel, ornaments, or ribbons, do NOT induce vomiting, consult a vet immediately!.

Gee, no pressure there for the holidays, right?

So, there you go... you can have your tree and enjoy the holidays even with devious, destructive dogs... until they figure out how to climb, jump, or open the X-pen.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and good luck!


Angela said...

I love you. So much. Thank you for this.

The Army of Four said...

Oddly enough, I'm almost 12 and my mom STILL hangs the Zim Detection Device on the tree. It's ... it's almost like she still doesn't quite trust me or something.
Play bows,
PS: Dave's the Lab..I'm still one with HULA.

The Beals Dogs said...

BOL! And even then, sometimes the pen doesn't work.. Last year I managed to knock both the pen AND the tree over ;)


Huffle Mawson said...

And what about cats who are both members of HULA, including one who is so naughty he makes all the huskies look like angels?

White Tail Trails said...

I would like to share, with those of you who have electric fence in tha yard, that all you have to do is run a single wire around the tree, no electricity. Just laying it on the ground works with most dogs (All but one dog I have had in my house, a Lab/Border Collie mix. She had to touch every wire to make absosutely sure the power was on). Apparently dogs, unlike cows, don't know if it's hot or not. Most of my huskies will even avoid a piece of string on the floor. Which can be really entertaining.

miann said...

I don't know how I missed this post but giggled my through it just now. We haven't had a tree sine 1999 when we got a crafty Greyhound. Dogs vs. trees - I gave up. Dogs win. (-: