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LIFE ... WITHOUT BUMPER PADS

'Christmas Dog' now part of family holiday traditions

Monday, December 3, 2012 - 12:01 am

Editor's note: Jill Adams is a professional writer based in Fort Wayne.

Two years ago, our entire family went on an expedition for new outdoor Christmas decorations. Our kids had reached ages where they felt the excitement of the season, and we all enthusiastically loaded up the supplies for a display that would make Clark Griswold proud.

Our prized possession from that shopping trip was a decoration our kids named “Christmas Dog.” Aptly titled, he was a large Labrador made entirely of lights, wearing a festive little Santa hat. We proudly perched him in our lawn, and the kids squealed with delight as he lit up. Inanimate as he may have been, he kind of became the family dog before we had a real-life version.

And then last year, as our Christmas Dog stood watch, vandals came along and dismantled him. My husband made this somber discovery one morning when he left for work; as he pulled out of the driveway, he dialed the home phone.

“Look out in the garage,” he told me when I answered.

I opened the door and saw Christmas Dog sitting by the wall — headless.

I pursed my lips, not sure whether to laugh or cry.

“What are we going to tell the kids?” I finally asked.

“I'm not sure yet,” he said. “We need to think of something.”

Suddenly, I knew there was only one thing to do: Find another Christmas Dog ASAP. I thought the task would be simple. I started an online search, and assumed I would have my new dog in a matter of moments.

But when I saw the word “discontinued” next to the image, I knew it was going to be a much more complicated undertaking.

Eight hours, what seemed like 1,000 phone calls, $20 in shipping and the nicest long-distance Store Manager in the world later, a new Christmas Dog was on the way. Now, I would just have to find a way to keep the kids from figuring it out … .

Later that evening, our youngest son looked outside.

“Daddy, where's our dog?” he asked.

My husband looked upward, trying to think quickly.

“He, uh, well, his lights weren't working,” he said unconvincingly. “We took him someplace to get those fixed.”

Our son nodded, but was clearly dubious. I caught his older brother's eye, and he gave me a knowing look. I said a silent prayer that the money I spent on expedited shipping would serve me well.

And in fact, it did. The next day, Christmas Dog 2 arrived on our doorstep, and my husband snuck into the garage to assemble him and restore order to our outdoor display. Before I knew it, the dog was back in place, and the kids seemed to forget any doubts they may have had about his whereabouts.

Thankfully, the décor remained untouched for the rest of the season, and I breathed a sigh of relief when we packed it all up and stored it for the year.

Then, after 10 of the fastest months of my life, we pulled it all back down from the attic and began to deck the halls once again. As we unwrapped Christmas Dog, I eyed him warily.

“Think we should keep him inside this year?” I asked my husband.

He blinked at me in surprise

“It's an outdoor decoration,” he said simply.

“I can't deal with another incident,” I told him, shaking my head. “I can tell you with absolute certainty that I will not be able to locate a third Christmas Dog.”

“Eh, don't worry,” he said cheerfully. And with that, he marched outside with boxes of Christmas decorations, all three of our children trailing behind him. When he was done, our yard was bright and festive once again.

That night, however, I took every opportunity to look out the window and ensure the lit pup was firmly in place. Our real dog, Marley, joined me in this venture, barking at his supposed competition. Eventually, my husband looked up at me in exasperation.

“What are you doing?” he asked me.

“Making sure everything is OK out there,” I replied petulantly.

He rolled his eyes.

“It will be fine,” he assured me.

I gave him my best doleful look, and without another word, he went outside, unplugged the decoration and moved it close to the house.

“Better?” he asked me.

“Yep,” I responded with a smile.

This year, I think Christmas Dog will be safe and sound.

This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel. Jill Adams blogs at http://lifewithoutbumperpads.blogspot.com.