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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Chicago area. With a high of nearly 50 degrees, it is not beginning to look a lot like Christmas but it is a nice warm day to frolic, around town and give you and your pup a chance to enjoy the outdoors before the year end. Keeping in step with the holiday spirit, we suggest a few activities to help you and your furry friend have a holly jolly Christmas this year. So, dawn your pooch in his favorite Christmas sweater and head out into the winter wonderland.

Take a Photo with Santa

Your dog may not be able to write a letter to Santa but he can pay him a personal visit. Many of Chicago’s malls have designated days where Santa will be available to hear his furry friend’s Christmas wish. Find out when he will be at a mall near you and capture Fido’s shot with the big man for your next holiday greeting card.

 

Christkindl Market

Dog’s on leash are warmly welcomed at Chicago’s Christkindl Market, among the outdoor market areas. The market is inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, German and is open through Christmas Eve. Admission is always free for pups and people.Enjoy a stroll as you view Christmas decorations from around the world, pick up a handcrafted gift for a loved one and delight the senses with traditional German foods such as bratwurst and strudel and much more.

Support a local Pet Food Pantry

Christmas is a time for giving and looking to the needs of the less fortunate. You can make a difference in the life of a pet and his owner by donating to a pet food pantry. One organization that seeks to make a difference is Chicago’s Animal Welfare League which you can assist by donating to their food bank for homeless pets, or by sponsoring a cage which supports pups awaiting adoption. Another food bank to support who helps pets of families experiencing unemployment as well as low income is PAWS Chicago Emergency Pet Food Bank. It truly is better to give than to receive and what better time to make an impact than at Christmas? 

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It is the most wonderful time of the year but you may not be feeling very wonderful inside. This is normal for those who are grieving the loss of a pet. Whether it was recent or many years ago, the holidays have a way of reminding us of our loved ones who have passed on as we try to move through the season without them. The pain may be magnified if the loss occurred close to the holidays or if this is the first year facing the season without them.

 

Grief is a very personal and individual experience. Grief may manifest itself in different feelings such as denial, anger, guilt, depression, and eventually acceptance and resolution. However, we don’t move through the predetermined stages of grief in order, and emerge on the other side. Every loss is different, and every journey through grief is a unique experience. Even years after a loss, a sight, a sound, or a special anniversary can spark memories that trigger a strong sense of grief.

It’s important for the bereaved to know that all such behavior is normal and necessary to find healing and a new kind of normal in their lives. Finding out what helps you most and allowing time to exercise your emotions is essential, especially this time of the year. Wherever you are on your journey, whether you are facing the potential loss of a pet or have had to say goodbye already, keep the following in mind.

You should expect to feel sadness and pain. Though others may be insisting you cheer up and have a good time, you may find it impossible.  Allow yourself to feel these feelings and don’t try to cover them up with busyness or fake merriment. You don’t have to feel ashamed or afraid to cry as tears are an important part of the healing process.

Take some time to plan ahead on how you will spend the holidays. With so much hustle and bustle this time of year, it can be easy to over do it. Try to schedule some quiet time to be alone and reflect between the holiday parties and shopping sprees. If you must decline from attending some of your favorite activities, try not to be too hard on yourself. Remember that any time out taken is in honor of your precious pet which is a worthy cause. Do not accept every invitation or bury yourself in work to keep busy and avoid thinking about it as this can prolong the process and make it more difficult.

Take care of yourself. This may seem contrary to the spirit of giving that marks this time of year, but it holds true that if you are not filling yourself up first, you will not have anything to give to others. Do not drown your sorrows in Christmas cookies but try to set healthy limits on treats and desserts. Eating protein rich foods with good fats along with wholesome fruits, veggies and nuts, etc, will keep your energy steady and help battle depression. Exercise is a great antidepressant and it’s free! Try to go the extra mile whenever possible from an extra day at the gym to parking at the end of the lot and jogging in when out running errands. Allow yourself to say no to hosting special gatherings if you simply don’t feel up to it.  If being out among holiday shoppers seems overwhelming to you this year, take advantage of shopping online.

Find a way to remember your pet this holiday. Place a candle next to a photo of your pet in a special place in your home and light it during significant times during the holidays to symbolize the love that you shared with your pet. Hang photo frame ornaments with your pet’s picture on your tree. Share  memories with family members and friends who knew your pet during holiday gatherings.  This may bring tears, but it may also bring laughter, and it will make your lost pet a part of the celebrations. Make a donation in your pet’s memory to a charity that is meaningful to you.  Maybe it could be the shelter or rescue group your pet came from.  Maybe there’s a group that does research into the illness that took your pet’s life.

Remember that sometimes, the anticipation of how awful the holidays are going to be without your loved one can be harder than the actual holidays.  And as much as the bereaved dread the holidays, sometimes, the aftermath of the holidays can bring even more sadness than the actual holidays themselves, so be aware and prepare yourself for this.

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At Family’s Pet Cremation we know that pets are family. This Christmas you can let them know just how special they are by including them in the festivities

1. Get your dog a stockinG

If you haven’t already done so, you can buy your pet a personalized stocking or a plain one for yourself or the kids to decorate. If you feel really creative, you can trace or make a print of your pets paw on the stocking. Let family members help choose small gifts and treats to place inside as a way for them each to demonstrate their love for your precious pet.

2. Buy a present

A warm Christmas sweater, a new ball, or a luscious bone, you know what will get your pet’s tail wagging. Whatever you choose, your pet will feel the love when including in gift giving process. Have a little fun and let him sniff any boxes containing edible treats. You may be surprised at his ability to tear it open just like the other kids on Christmas morning.

3. help a homeless dog 

If you have love and room in your home for one more, consider adopting a new pet and giving them a home for the holidays. Some shelters offer a fostering program allowing you to house the animals temporarily which can provide some much needed attention and affection for the lonesome little guys and teach the other members of the family about the joy of helping those less fortunate. If compelled you may desire to make your home a permanent dwelling for the lucky creature and share the gift of family with them for years to come.

4. Take a Christmas photo

You may choose to include your pet on the front of your family Christmas card or make a special solo photo of their own. You can show off your best friend with each card you send or make a keepsake photo of your pet for just your family to enjoy and remember for years to come. With all the cute Christmas costumes available, from reindeer ears to Santa hats, the possibilities are endless for you to adorn your pet with Christmas cheer. Making a homemade costume is easy too by attaching bells, bows or other decorations to your pet’s collar. Just remember to remove them when finished to prevent your pet from any harm of choking or ingesting these not so pet proof accessories.

5. Participate in a special activity together

There is no shortage of holiday parties and festivities cramming the calender during the month of December, but not many of these events were planned with your pooch or pussycat in mind. With a little effort, however, you can create some fun activities for you and your pet. Simple choices may be taking a walk down a new path or setting up a play date with another pet you know will get along well with yours. If you like to bake then choose some tasty dog biscuit or cat treat recipes that your pet will enjoy. This is a great alternative to giving your pet any goodies that are not healthy for your pets unique digestion system.

Hopefully these ideas have helped to stimulated your thinking about how you can include your pet as you celebrate the joy of Christmas this year. Merry Christmas!!!!

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A puppy for Christmas… what a delightful scene! Just close your eyes and imagine the lively, young, furry pup adorned in red ribbon and as cute as can be, prancing about from person to person happy to be accepted into a new family. It is sure to win the hearts of your family members, but in the back of your mind you may be wondering, “Is a puppy for Christmas really a good idea?”

The answer is simple but not easy.That initial delight could turn out to be a burden if the recipient is not prepared or willing to handle the demanding responsibilities of a new pet. If you take the time to weigh the pros and cons of this important decision then you will be able to eat, drink, and be merry long after the holidays have passed without any regrets.

PROS

A puppy is one of the most precious and joyous gifts that one could receive…..as long as you already know that it is on their wish list. It is sure to make a big impression for those who want to WOW their loved ones. It is the gift that keeps on giving, as puppies grow up and will become a part of your family bringing companionship for years to come.

A lot of breeders time their pups to be born right in time for Christmas. This can result in a wide variety of breeds to choose from and competitive prices as many breeders want to see the pups find a home during this window of opportunity.

CONS

Holidays are busy times and it can be difficult to give the attention needed to properly potty train the new addition to your home. Your delight may turn to dismay as you find that your new gift has left gifts of his own for you around the house.  Besides potty training, they also need to be supervised to prevent chewing and choking on objects that are not puppy proof.

Along with the business, you may be entertaining lots of guests or be a guest yourself. In either case, your puppy may not handle the excitement well and quickly tire of the attention and excitement causing him to nip as he seeks relief. If you are visiting at another residence, you won’t be able to leave your puppy unattended long as they need frequent bathroom breaks. You may be tempted to bring them along but you may not fully enjoy your time knowing that your pup needs your constant attention.

It is worth mentioning that depending on your location and the climate at this time of year, you may have to face the bitter cold and snow multiple times a day as you teach your young yelper to do his duty outdoors.

Sadly, many puppies are returned to pet shops or given to shelters a few weeks after the holidays as the realities of raising a pup are revealed. To prevent this, take the time to consider what is best for the new born babe as well as your loved ones.

 

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Christmas is fast approaching! Whether you are all finished with your holiday shopping or will be one of the last minute shoppers wondering what to buy and fighting for a parking spot at the mall, we hope that you will not forget to include your furry, four legged friend in the gift giving process. Fortunately, there are many gifts that you can create for your pet from the comfort of your own home. So grab the other family members and some supplies and make get ready to make memories that will last for years as you manifest to your pet one of the greatest gifts of all, one from your heart.

DIY Pet Toys

A new toy is sure to please your pet t this Christmas! Chances are, you can create one by using items found in your home. Do it yourself toys are simple and can save you a ton. A simple toy to please most pups is to take a ball or water bottle and wrap it in an unused shirt. Securely wrap a ribbon or strong cloth at the base of the object where the shirt is bunched. You can cut the surrounding material in strips and braid them to create squid like tentacles that will be enticing for your pet to grapple with as you throw the new toy around.

Per Pillow and Blanket

A pillow or blanket is the perfect gift for pets! They spend most of the day sleeping anyway so why not add an extra level of comfort to rest those bones upon? It is sure to please your pet! Have fun choosing the pattern and material of your choice. For a no sew option choose fleece. It is a great fabric to use for either a pillow or a blanket. To quickly assemble a pillow, just cut two pieces in the same shape as the pillow but much larger, allowing a six-inch border all around. Tie the corners of the fleece pieces together and you’ve got a quick and easy pet pillow. To make a simple fleece blanket, sew two square pieces together or cut two-inch fringe the whole way around each piece, then use the fringe to tie the two pieces together. They are so simple to make, you may decide to do both!

Christmas Ornaments

A festive gift to include your pet in the yearly Christmas celebration is to create a homemade ornament. One simple way is to make an imprint of your pet’s paw onto a bake-able clay. You may include his name and the year on front or back. Make a hole for the ribbon and then bake in your oven per manufacturer’s instruction. Thread with a ribbon or hook and place the precious keepsake upon your tree.  Another option, which includes a picture of your pet, is to cut out a holiday-themed shape such as a Christmas tree, snowflake, or stocking from construction paper, felt, or other sturdy material. Cut two identical shape then make an opening in one of the shapes for the photo. Glue the pieces together with the photo in between. Next, add a hanger and if desired, decorate with some glitter glue or decals and voila! Include the year somewhere on the ornament and save as a keepsake for years to come.

Decorated Pet Accessories

Plain pet collars, leashes and food bowls can be easily decorated for a personalized pet gift. Use fabric paint to decorate a collar and leash with your pet’s name and designs. Check the beading area of craft stores for small pet charms that can add some pizzazz to a collar. Your pet may not be moved either way concerning the fashion statement being made, but it is a creative expression of your love and style upon your furry friend. Customize a food bowl mat by taking a flat rug and painting it with your pet’s name and other decorations. Decorate food bowls with your pet’s name and other creative details such as paw prints, fish, mouse, or dog bone shapes.

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