Pets have always been involved in holiday traditions in my family. They may not know exactly what Christmas is or why there's now a tree in the house and boxes wrapped in shiny paper with enticing, ribbons attached to the top, but with all of the preparations and festivities, their friskiness does seem to intensify and add to the magic of Christmas.
Animals in general have played a part in the annual holiday of giving since the very first Christmas. Just look at any Nativity scene. Jesus was born among animals and slumbered peacefully in their presence. A donkey dutifully carried a very pregnant Mary to Bethlehem. And the classic carol "Away in a Manger" tells that “The cattle are lowing”, which, in my limited knowledge of cattle, I assume means a soft mooing, a sort of bovine lullaby.
On a less religious note, what's Christmas without a certain miniature sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer? Or the serene wonder of the Aurora Borealis enjoyed by polar bears drinking Coca-Cola. And then there are those tear-jerking Budweiser ads featuring majestic Clydesdales and loveable pups. Don't forget Snoopy, Charlie Brown's loyal and comical beagle who takes First Prize in the holiday lights contest with his colorful, flashing dog house display.
More recently, the traditional televised Yule Log has been updated by the Hallmark Channel's own roaring fireplace with Happy the Cat and Happy the Dog, their "Ambassadors of Paws-itivity". Both pets are rescues from animal shelters who now help spread the message that "when you rescue an animal from a shelter; you also rescue yourself and welcome a whole new world of love and devotion."
That's a message I can certainly support. If you have pets, and enjoy making them part of your holiday traditions, I'm sure you agree. And while you're enjoying the holiday with your pets, be mindful of potential hazards. From mistletoe, tinsel, and electrical wires, to artificial sweeteners, chocolate and bones, the holiday fun can come to a quick halt if your pet finds a dangerous toy or treat. Call the SPCA's Veterinary Care Center at 803-648-6863 if needed, and keep a local Veterinary Emergency number nearby.
And if you don't have a pet to cozy up with and buy silly pet gifts for, why not change that and make Christmas even merrier? There are so many wonderful, loving, fun, special pets wishing for a forever home for the holidays.
Right now, there are a couple of adoption specials happening at the SPCA Albrecht Center. There's the annual "12 Strays of Christmas" adoption special, featuring 12 perfectly amazing pets for a reduced $12 adoption fee.
And then there's the continued $0 adoption fee for all adult cats and kittens. You can't beat either of those deals considering each pet's spay or neuter surgery, current vaccinations, testing and a microchip are included. Not to mention the many happy holidays, cuddles, ball tosses and memories to come.
Follow the SPCA Albrecht Center on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to see the featured pets' photos, or visit them and all of the adorable adoptable pets in person at 199 Willow Run Rd, in Aiken.
I hope you and yours, including your furry family, have a Meowy Christmas, Happy Howlidays and a very Yappy New Year!
Sarah Neikam is the Marketing Director for the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. She is an Aiken native and has been with the SPCA since 2012. Sarah's family includes three adopted cats: Bastian, Luna and Grady, who are all living happy, loved lives thanks to the efforts of the SPCA.