° empty

Put a little love in your heart

A new addition to the family always shakes things up a bit, and this year has certainly been rough in patches at our house.

Jealousy — in all directions — is the biggest concern, but sibling rivalry has also reared its ugly head.

So when it came to one of our most important holiday traditions, Kevin and I knew we needed to tread carefully.

Suzy has always been the star — sole star — of her own Christmas card. Though we realize she doesn’t understand what a Christmas card is, there’s no denying that she likes to be the center of attention on all fronts.

Since our cards have grown to involve elaborate sets and sometimes multi-hour photo shoots, Suzy clearly notices that when we take a Christmas card photo all attention is on her.

There’s primping and propping, petting and a pocket full of treats. We avoid any potentially painful or irritating costumes, so, for the most part, Christmas photo day is a day in the park for Suzy.

She relishes the full attention from Mom and Dad, and her proclivity to pose tells me she might just know that looking cute for the card photo pays off when family and friends — with hands primed for petting — visit for the holidays.

But this year has been a challenging one for Suzy, thanks, in every account, to Alice.

Alice, the dachshund we decided to rescue from the humane society on a whim last February, has been everything a bratty, pesky, adorably cute little sister is supposed to be to a big sister.

Suzy has nothing but disdain for her.

They rarely scrap. And Alice absolutely adores big sis.

But Suzy has seemingly chosen to carry on her life as best she can, pretending in every moment that Alice doesn’t exist.

Oh, but Alice just had to be in the Christmas card, didn’t she!

From the human side of the room, it would bex appropriate to exclude one cuddly critter.

From Suzy’s posh doggie bed, exclusion was the only fair way to do it.

Well, Suzy lost the debate (yes, she waged one with her eyes.)

But, as parents who are no doubt entirely too overprotective of the little one’s feelings and emotions, we did try to keep Suzy’s fragile heart in mind when we planned this year’s card.

The entire concept was dreamed up to put Suzy in her the place she so believes is rightfully hers — above Alice in social standing and physical placement.

The Cooper 2011 Christmas card features Alice as a reindeer forced to pull queen Suzy in her nicely padded sleigh.

It was our most complicated shoot ever, since it involved two dogs, one of which was not as professional at posing as Suzy.

And, the pro admittedly lost her a cool a few times when she stopped and thought about the fact that Alice did, truly, exist and had the gall to infringe upon her Christmas card.

But in the end, we got a shot that works and both dogs got a belly full of treats and an hour straight of devoted attention.

Suzy does not endorse this message, but if you still need a meaningful Christmas gift for a loved one, please consider visiting the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society (www.natchezpetadoptions.org/Dogs.html).

Whether your gift may be a new addition or a first-time pet, carefully think about saving a life this Christmas.

Their faces, antics, tail wags and face licks will provide unmatchable holiday cheer for years to come.


Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or julie.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.