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All I Want for Christmas is Boo

Bad Santa

 

All I want for Christmas is Boo. My Boo Boo – Dempsey.

 

I don’t want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
I don’t care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree

I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you, yeah.

              Mariah Carey, et al

 

 

Last Christmas, Dempsey started aging faster. His muzzle completely white, his coat was getting streaks that rivaled a suburban housewife’s highlights. He was nearly 11; for an abnormally huge Boxer, he was old. According to a chart at the animal hospital, my Boo Boo’s human age was 85-90.

 

 

He began urinating in the house a few times a week. Though puppy pee pads addressed some of the problem, as my socks soon discovered, male dogs have worse aim than male people.

 

 

The bigger problem with big dogs, other than the sucky life expectancy, is degeneration in their hindquarters and backs. Their hips don’t move like they used to, which is scary and uncomfortable for both of you.

 

 

It’s also why I didn’t take Boo Boo to see Santa last year. Not the good Santa, I mean: the mall Santa, with a real beard and belly like a bowl full of jelly. The kind that graduated from Santa University, Phi Beta Stocking-Kappa.

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Furry kiddies are only permitted to see Santa between 6 and 9, on only four Monday nights. During holiday season. On slippery and wet floors, That smell like Christmas morning to dogs but New Year’s Day Hangover to their parents. (This is also where Santa mines for coal so you better watch out.)

 

 

When I took Dempsey and Laila to see the chubby guy, I brought a helper. Whoever played Elf either stood in line with one dog or sat nearby with the other. I kept Boo Boo and Hoochie Laila separated because they “watched out” – for each other- when other dogs were around.

 

 

But in 2013, due to the weather and my compassionate nature, I couldn’t ask anyone to stand in line alone for an hour or be responsible for a rickety reindeer-sized canine. Dempsey was still a tad ornery. He might lunge, get hurt, fall down or otherwise be naughty before Santa’s wondering eyes. I couldn’t decide what to do, and the final Monday photo-op passed.

 

 

Miraculously, three days before Christmas, TD Bank hosted Santa PAWS, an animal welfare photo-op fundraiser. PAW aside, I am not a TD customer but 10 AM Sunday at the bank was unlikely to resemble a manger in any bank. My one last chance to tell Santa I didn’t want a lot for Christmas except, I feared, one last picture of Dempsey with him.

 

 

There are some things you will feel guilty about for the rest of your life. Like forgoing Santa pictures.

 

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The Polar Vortex soon settled into my Boo’s bones, or so it appeared. Dr. Megan did acupuncture and Dr. Cindy prescribed anti-inflammatories. He was eating and, most importantly, had firm, formed, regular poop. Good bowels = good news. Dysfunctional defecation, on the other hand is an alert.

 

 

If Dempsey makes it to his 11th birthday, I thought, he will officially be my Christmas miracle. Thank you Santa. March 13 didn’t seem like much to ask.

 

 

Turns out, it was asking a lot. The last weekend in February, Dempsey was hospitalized and diagnosed with lymphoma.

 

 

I went into shock. Dempsey’s older sister Laila crossed the Rainbow Bridge just 14 months earlier. I was not ready to face any final decisions. Lymphoma, however, is treatable and Boo Boo responded to chemotherapy. He had his happy birthday and I had time to prepare, emotionally and physically.

 

 

Caring for a sick loved one of any species is grueling, especially when you know the story doesn’t have a happy ending. The oncologist and I tacitly acknowledged my Boo would not be around for Christmas 2014. Every day with him would be a miracle.

 

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In June, Millie joined our little family. Dempsey hated her. She was/is a box of energy and joy. Dempsey became her favorite toy. Her puppy needle-teeth made him bleed more than once or twice.

 

 

She will either perk him up or be the death of him, I thought. Truth be told, it was a miracle he didn’t kill her.

 

 

Millie (Moo) won him over and kept torturing him well into fall. In September, the oncologist started worrying; she knew the odds and the disease, and that seven months of remission was, in fact, a miracle.

 

 

The day before Thanksgiving, tests showed Boo Boo’s chemo stopped working.

 

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The oncologist started him on a new chemo drug and I started searching for a proper Santa. I still have the same crowd and control issues. In addition to Boo-dolph the black-nosed reindeer, there is Millie, the female version of the Grinch’s dog, Max.

 

 

Santa PAWS was scheduled at the Bellevue Stratford Hotel this year. Fancy, right? Mr. and Mrs. Claus were there! Except PAWs wasn’t and Santa was only posing for pictures. There was no photographer elf.

 

 

The Clauses were jolly, as Millie Max attacked, Dempsey worried and I took three photos as fast as I could.

 

 

All I want for Christmas

Good Santa, bad pictures, but better than last year. Better yet, I had a chance to whisper to Santa, “All I want for Christmas is Boo Boo. I don’t care about the presents under the tree.”

 

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Santa PAWS did come to town, two weeks ago, but not in a bank. In a special place, with treats and toys for good girl and boy dogs. A lot of them. Despite all that, and rain, my heart said, this really is the last time Dempsey will see Santa. What more could I do?

 

millie dempsey santa paws 1 (2)

Ok, the photos still are not great, and the Santa isn’t perfect, but….

 

All I want for Christmas

millie dempsey santa paws too many helpers (2)

 

 

 

 

We got a different Christmas miracle.

 

 

 

 

 

Boo’s lymphoma is back in remission. Santa (and chemo) made my wish come true.

 

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I’m tired; this has been a challenging year. I won’t even stay awake to hear those magic reindeer click. I really don’t want a lot for Christmas. This is all I’m asking for. I just want to see my Boo Boo standing right outside my door.

 

 

Ho Ho Ho! Here you go: download The Play With Yourself Holiday Handbook.

 

Eat, drink, be merry and be back soon, right where you belong.

 

 All is calm. All is bright. Beth

 

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