Creature Comforts

PHOTO PROVIDED Dr. Daverio’s pet Ivy lays exhausted beside the tree after a a long lesson on Christmas.

Agenda: Introducing Ivy, the “new dog,” to Christmas.

Attendees: Walter, (moderator), dachshund, 11 years-old; Wyatt and Virgil, cats, 13 years; Miriam, dachshund, 10 years; Kevin, dachshund, 7 years; Ivy, big dog of mixed parentage, 2 years.

Walter: Welcome. Now then, since Ivy has not yet celebrated Christmas with our family, we need to get her up to speed on the goings-on here at the Daverio homestead. I think we can all agree that Christmas is disorderly and full of unusual sounds and smells and often involves visitors that can cause quite a ruckus.

Ivy: I love sounds and smells and visitors and ruckuses!

Miriam: You love everything, what else is new?

Walter: Let’s keep this civil, Miriam. After all, the spirit of Christmas is to have extra patience and be a bastion of peace for all species’ kind.


Walter: Cats, you have something to contribute?

Wyatt: Uh, lead by example. ‘S all I’m sayin.’ [more snickering]

Walter: I’M PEACEFUL AND PATIENT! Now then, Wyatt your prepared remarks?

Wyatt: As you know, both Virgil and I enjoy boxes very much. Christmas is all about random boxes. Different sizes, shapes, styles and sturdiness, dusty boxes, noisily carried down from the attic — they’re everywhere. There’s this ginormous box that contains this stuff that kind-of looks like tree parts (only it doesn’t have bark or smell or taste like a tree) and in a few minutes, the people assemble it into a big, pretend pine tree — right there in the living room. The furniture is moved this way and that to make room for the thing, and then the real magic begins. MORE BOXES! All manner of colorful, sparkly, twinkly things come out of these boxes and are put all over this tree and on every flat surface of the house. Most of the stuff looks like cat toys —


Wyatt: No! They are called “decorations” and “ornaments” and will cause you great grief if you try to play with them.

Ivy: Do they explode?

Wyatt: Sometimes, if they’re made of glass. Just steer clear of them. I have always enjoyed just lying under the Christmas tree on that soft, velvet blanket they put there, and just gaze up through the so-called branches. It’s lovely.

Virgil: Boxes!

Wyatt: More boxes are deposited on the porch at random intervals by uniformed guys in big, noisy trucks.

Kevin: Gack! Mailman! UPS guy! Come to kill us all!

Miriam: Evil!

Walter: Our barking is effective at making these potential perpetrators of no-good leave without entering our inner sanctum.

Ivy: Oh, is THAT why we’re barking at them? I thought we were just excited to see them. They seem so nice.

Miriam: You think everybody seems nice.

Ivy: I love people!

Miriam: O.M.G. That’s why you need dachshunds for protection.

Wyatt: Indeed. Anyway, boxes and packages of all sizes and levels of firmness or squishiness all wrapped in colorful, crunchy paper or in bags with tissue paper with fancy ribbons and bows, appear as if by magic under the tree on Christmas Eve. It’s hard for a cat to find a sleeping spot in all that, but I manage.

Virgil: The one with the biggest, prettiest bow is MY comfy seat.

Wyatt: Not if I see it first.

Walter: For us dogs, all that junk takes up too much room and makes navigating the floor and finding an unoccupied spot on the couch that much more difficult. Now, as far as we’re concerned, the best part of Christmas is the FOOD.

Miriam: If they would only let us taste it all, even BETTER.

Kevin: I am an excellent floor cleaner-upper, especially in the kitchen!

Walter: Yes, you are that, Kevin. And agreed, it would be glorious if we were allowed to eat all those cookies, candies, meats, breads, and scrumptious-ness they make at this time of year.

Ivy: Yeah! Cookies!

Walter: Of course, we don’t need to tell you, Ivy, about the foods they make in abundance, as you have already sampled some of it on the sly. We are all quite jealous of your extreme height and stealthiness. You are a master at counter-surfing. I am in awe.

Ivy: It’s my superpower.

Miriam: You could share some of your spoils once in a while, you know!

Ivy: I’ll try.

Walter: And finally, ready yourself for lots of music and spontaneous singing. So much singing.

Miriam: Don’t forget the dancing and kissing.

Walter: Yes, they tend to grab one of us at random intervals and hug and kiss us and dance us around the room during a particularly rousing song.

Kevin: I hate the whole Beach Boys Christmas album.

Miriam: What about Handel’s “Messiah?!”

Ivy: Dancing?! THAT sounds fun!

Walter: You’ll probably LOVE it.

Ivy: Yay, Christmas!

Daverio is a veterinarian at Williamsport West Veterinary Hospital. Her column is published every other Sunday in the Lifestyle section. She can be reached at