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Dogs can feel a post-holiday letdown

The day after Christmas last year was underwhelming for our family, especially for Teddy, our lab.

There was no laughter or jubilation around the living room Christmas tree and the shredded paper and empty boxes had carried off to the trash bins.

There weren’t even any good breakfast smells in the kitchen as the humans replaced the previous day’s red-and-green pancakes with the usual fare of cereal, yogurt and muffins.

And with no new toys to be pulled out of stockings, what was a dog to do?

The pooch laid on the living room carpet. His head rested on his left front paw. His ears drooped. His gazed seemed aimless.

Teddy had a case of the post-holiday blues.

It’s not unusual for dogs to feel down, particularly in times of change, writes veterinarian Bonnie Beaver at webmed.com. John Ciribassi, past president of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, also at webmd.com says the “blues” can include less activity and socializing with humans or animals, and that eating and sleeping habits can change.

Teddy looked like a black blob laying in our living room. A baby carrot was offered, and he turned his head.

Teddy’s human family was also feeling “blah.” No one seemed to have the energy to do anything.

Our house had gone from full-fledged holiday bedlam with all the bells and whistles to complete and utter calmness.

Both human psychologists and veterinarians agree that a simple case of the “blues” isn’t serious depression, but many people and dogs do experience it. It’s a basic psychological problem called contrast effect, JR Thorpe writes at bustle.com. Everyday life can’t compete with the excitement of the holidays.

Dogs sense their owners’ moods, according to Jill Sackman, at dodo.com. They can even become depressed because their human families are depressed.

So what do we do Dec. 26 to prevent the holiday blues from seeping into our home and sapping the good moods and energy from the day before?

Ed, my husband, Jordan, my daughter, and I can do what we did last year, which is nothing, or we can get moving and prevent the holiday blues from killing our “holly jolly” moods as well as Teddy’s.

Ed will take a long walk with the pooch. If it’s cold, they can bundle up in their warm winter coats. Both will reap the health benefits.

Jordan will play with Teddy more than usual. Rounds of keep away with his new Kong toy will get them both moving. Jordan will laugh as she runs around the house. Teddy will prance after her with ears flapping and tail waging.

Normal tummy rubs and games of fetch-shake-tug-chew will be played throughout the day. These activities will keep all four of us engaged and not moping around the house.

Dec. 27 and the days into the new year are just as important. To stay healthy and happy, my family, human and furball alike, needs to be active and socially engaged. I envision more walks, games and tummy rubs for Teddy in 2018.

Karin Spicer, a magazine writer, has been entertaining families for more than 20 years. She lives in Bellbrook with her family and two furry animals all who provide inspiration for her work. She can be reached at spicerkarin@gmail.com.

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