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When I was a child, my sister and I hung up our Christmas stockings on the same wooden doorway in the dining room each year. Once our stockings were up, we’d place our dogs’ stockings right next to them. The glitter, the glue, and the mess were all part of the fun. I continued the tradition with my own kids, so we hang our Mom and Dad stockings next to our daughters’ and son’s stockings, and then we begin the process of hanging the pets’ stockings.

If you walk into our living room in December, you’ll see close to 10 stockings in total and you might have thought we have an enormous family. Well, I guess we do, if you count our furry members.

It’s a little bit of extra effort in a home where Santa comes to all the children and pets. Many late Christmas Eves throughout the years have been spent filling stockings with goodies, including toys, rawhides, and catnip. It has always been well worth the work, partly because many Christmas mornings were spent speculating what Django and Hayley thought of Santa since they were really the only ones in the house who knew for sure what he looked like in person. And then the kids would be off to inspect the stockings to see what Santa left behind. The joy on the children’s faces was always a delight, and I hope it is a lasting memory that they will keep and share with their own children one day.

Django was the last pet to get her own stocking after we adopted her seven years ago. We excitedly made room on the wall for our new pup just as I recalled making a new stocking for each child and furry family member throughout the years. Our dogs may not talk, but they certainly provide comfort and love to all of us.

This summer, we had to say goodbye to Hayley, the sweetest pup on earth. Here we thought we were changing her life when we rescued the little, abused Chihuahua 10 years ago, only to find out, she changed our lives exponentially. It’s going to hurt when we take her stocking out of the Christmas storage box. Just last year, we were taking funny Christmas photos with her. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t miss her.

Our dogs are a definite part of our family. We would be a different family without them. Yes, we’d have less fur and chores, but we’d also have a whole lot less love.

Wishing you and your family (human and furry) a wonderful and warm holiday season!

Danielle Sullivan is a writer living in New York City. Follow her on Instagram @Deewrite.

Updated 5:04 pm, July 9, 2018
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