Like so many homes, my suburban split level tends to get a bit more foot traffic from November through late December. Our holiday visitors typically include friends, family members, gift-givers, gift-getters, playdate pals, partygoers, and . . . some people who love animals combined with some individuals who, well, don’t.
Either way, I’d like to think I try to be respectful of both my pets and the various two-footed folk who grace my threshold. Put another way, I don’t force my hyperactive Poodle on small children who are terrified of dogs, and I don’t insist that my mother cuddles our rat, Emma.
At the same time, however, I’d like to remind all those near and dear ones who are not animal aficionados that we’re walking on a two-way street. You know me. You know my family—in its furry entirety. It shouldn’t shock you that you’ll hear frenzied barking when you ring the bell. Nor should you be disgustedly surprised that my children have a box turtle and an anole in their bedrooms that eat live worms and crickets. So, while I love kith and kin regardless of whether they have a soft spot in their hearts for reptiles, I have my limits, and I’m not crossing them this holiday season.
Meaning, I will not banish my dogs to the basement or backyard for the entire duration of your visit. If they’re a problem, feel free to suggest that we meet in a coffee shop or at the local McDonald’s Play Place. Similarly, please spare me the repulsed expressions and tongue clicks when one of my kids proudly mentions that they have a variety of non-traditional pets with somewhat non-traditional dietary and behavioral habits. I’ve politely smiled about things I’ve seen at some of your houses that would easily land you guests spots on A&E’s clinical intervention programs, so you should be able to handle an aging hamster and a Beagle mix with cherry eye.
I don’t expect you to change your views on the animal kingdom, and I do indeed understand that ‘tis the season of peace and harmony. Put another way, you play fair with me, and I’ll play fair with you. And, ideally, we’ll all play together with Isetta as she bats her sock chicken underneath the Christmas tree.
(On a side note, I’d like to think I’m open-minded and eager to learn how to be both a better holiday hostess and pet guardian. Ergo, I’d like to know your tips, techniques, and takes on this issue. How do you react to/accommodate guests who aren’t crazy about your pets? Conversely, what do you do when you head out to a home where a resident who you wouldn’t describe as your “favorite critter in the world” resides?)
Katie Marsico is a proud mommy of 3 human children— Maria, 5, C.J., 3, and Thomas, 18 months. She is also the happy guardian of several furry, finned, and scaled pets.
Marsico has happily written for Tails since its inception in 2000 and is the author of more than 60 children’s books. She works from home, which is located in Elmhurst, Illinois (though she hopes that address will one day be changed to a location in southwest Florida).