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By Cathy Kirkman

Holiday time with your dog

Uploaded: Dec 23, 2013

Here are a few ways to be extra nice to your dog over the holidays, ascertained from a focus group of dogs that I've been meeting with lately. In general, the consensus is that money, if spent, is best used on meat, bones, and more meat. Cats agree with this too.

Save the stockings, outfits and fashion gear, at least that's what I'm hearing. Otherwise, they say the best gift is free -- it's just being together with you. So it seems dogs know the true meaning of Christmas, and promises from the heart do in fact make for a great last-minute gift.

From the Table

1. A lovely holiday treat would be some smoked ham hocks. No mess, and so delicious! Molly Stone and Andronico's have the best we've seen, but your dog is likely not too picky.
2. Are you cooking a ham perhaps? The bone or some scraps would be much appreciated.
3. Are you cooking a chicken or turkey perhaps? Cook the carcass like you're making stock, and after removing the bones, use the liquid to pour over kibble. This will make a treat that will last for many days. Yum!
4. Are you cooking anything perhaps? Mix leftovers into kibble. Make sure to remove anything that's bad for dogs. If you're not sure, a quick Internet search will inform you.
5. Are you on the go? It's so easy to buy a package of luncheon meat or hotdogs at CVS, 7-11 or wherever. Or to order an extra burger at In-N-Out. QED.

From Yourself

1. Do you have some time off? Take a long walk at the Baylands, Foothills Park (weekdays only), or Stanford campus.
2. Or teach him a new trick or obedience command -- he will be proud and enjoy the treats and praise. There are lots of good training examples on YouTube. You can teach an old dog new tricks.
3. Or just take your dog along with you next time you go to the store. He'll enjoy the trip, and it's not too hot for the car right now, though still roll down windows, etc.
4. Going away? Your dog will be thrilled to see you when you return, especially if you bring him meat (see above).
5. Your dog is very forgiving, so go ahead and make lots of promises for the new year, even if you don't keep them all.

What a nice dog owner, guardian, parent, lover, you are! Reward yourself with some holiday cheer. Here's a recipe for eggnog from a 1950s Bacardi ad in Life magazine:

1 quart eggnog mix (from the dairy case)
1/2 bottle rum, light or dark (if you want alcohol)
1/2 pint whipped cream (the key ingredient)
mix all and chill, top with nutmeg

Merry Christmas!