CANINE CONNECTION: The best gift you can give your dog is time

It’s been three weeks since Santa Claus has come and gone from town. The parties are over, the gifts unwrapped and all you are left with is a Christmas hangover.

What is a Christmas hangover you ask? 

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Well, it is exactly like any other hangover we experience after a night of overindulgence and regardless of whether or not you dipped more than your toes into the punch bowl there is still a heavy brain fog that overtakes us on the days after Christmas.

It’s almost as if our soul is asking to be grounded and to let go of the consumerism mentality we have been swept up in for weeks. 

It’s letting go of the stress unknowingly associated with placing the value of our self worth on a material item.

 It’s taking the time to remember that there is more to this season than going into debt.

If you find yourself longing for a time when Christmas was simpler, when the time you spent with people had more value than the gift under a tree, then you are in luck. 

Fortunately for us dog lovers, we have our own personal Santa’s helpers ready and waiting to show us how to find the value of something without having to look at a price tag because, as much as our dogs liked the plush squeaky toy, they much prefer our time. 

To your dog, spending time with you is the best gift you could ever give them and if you allow it, it will benefit you in more ways than one.

Going for a hike with your dog can do wonders for your spirit and help ground you from the Christmas chaos.  It is likely that the local trails will be busy and if you enjoy the company of strangers then a local trail for your day with your dog will be fine. 

But if you are truly trying to heal a Christmas hangover then maybe seek a trail that is off the beaten path or even out of town where it will be less congested and you can quiet your mind and enjoy the time with your dog. 

Along the walk, observe nature as your dog does.  You don’t have to get down on all fours and sniff the dirt alongside him, but when he stops to investigate something, do the same. Take a moment to observe the evergreen trees and inhale their glorious scent deep into your lungs. Close your eyes and give thanks that you are able to spend time in the company of these forest giants that have seen many more Christmases than you have.

Head to the beach and appreciate it. Watch your dog romp with unbridled joy in the surf or dig in the sand or chase after a seagull. Take a moment and feel the exhilaration of freedom your dog has in shamelessly expressing that joy. Give thanks for your ability to live where you live because there are not many places in Canada where one can walk along the beach with their dog on Christmas Day without getting frostbite.

After your day out, come home and just sit with your dog. Watch how he is able to slip into a peaceful sleep within seconds of resting his head. Allow that sleeping head to rest on your lap. Place you hand on his chest and feel the rhythm of his breath and allow that rhythm to quiet your mind.

The best gift you can give your dog is your time and in return you will receive the gift of joy, peace and being present. Being present in the moment and feeling gratitude for your life can help ground you and give you that lasting feeling of inner peace and self worth that no pricey gadget can give.

It came without ribbons, it came without tags,

it came without packages, boxes or bags.

Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store,

Maybe Christmas means a little bit more, and maybe, just maybe our dogs can show us how.

Joan Klucha has been working with dogs for more than 20 years in obedience, tracking and behavioural rehabilitation. Contact her at


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