Happy Boxing Day

If you live in a Commonwealth country, you’re celebrating Boxing Day today (likely by shopping for discounted Christmas items). If you live in the USA, you probably have no idea what Boxing Day means.

In the most simplistic terms, Boxing Day is simply the day after Christmas, December 26th. The history of the term ‘Boxing Day’ is generally taken to refer to the British habit of gifting their servants and tradespeople with boxes of food and fruit on the day following Christmas (an early version of a Christmas bonus). It’s also been suggested that it refers to the habit of the Church of handing out alms to the poor on this day, taken from the tithes gathered in the Church poor boxes throughout the year.

There may also be a more decidedly pagan history behind the name. Tradition says that the Wren, or King of the Birds, was captured in a box during Solstice festivities. The boxed wren was then taken from house to house, where householders would ask him for the boon of a successful year and bountiful harvest. This tradition is mentioned in the classic book of English mythology and magic, the Golden Bough.

Wikipedia explains the common protocols for decided when Boxing Day will be celebrated:

In common usage, 26 December is continually referred to as Boxing Day whichever day of the week it occurs on. If it falls on a Sunday then in countries where it is a Bank Holiday the Statutory Holiday is moved to Monday December 27th to ensure a day without work. As Christmas Day would therefore be a Saturday, Tuesday 28 December is also declared as a holiday in lieu.

We’re celebrating Boxing Day by eating leftover Turkey for lunch, and Pho for dinner, from the Vietnamese restaurant around the corner from my daughter. After we drop her off, we’ll eat a big bowl of noodle and seafood soup. Then I’ll try to find someplace where I can buy an industrial sized box of puppy pads.

Here’s a photo of Mae’s puppy boy, taken last night. He’s almost completely better.


Mae's Pups & a Meditation on Breeding

Wednesday, when I went to bed at 10 pm, Mae was doing fine. No temperature drop, no funny behavior – just Mae, being Mae and looking happy to see me every time I came into the room to check on her, wiggling her Mae Mae butt and grinning her grin.

At 2 am, I woke up out of a dead sleep, convinced something in the house wasn’t right. I came down to check on Mae, and found her nesting in her bed, panting heavily and discharging signs of lochia in her pee. Despite being two days earlier than our earliest estimated due date, Mae was in labor, and there was no time to wait for our regular clinic to open at 8 am.

The emergency vet was wonderful – she worked fast, she anesthetized lightly, and she had the pups out within 10 minutes of getting Mae under and on the table. Unfortunately, two of them were dead before birth, with obvious signs of first stage decay. It kills me that there was nothing that could be done to try to save them.
The third pup, a little cream boy, is doing well, although he’s rather small. He eats well and vigorously, and Mae is being an attentive mom. The poor little solo puppy looks very small and very alone in that big whelping box, with no company. Mr. Monkey will be joining him for snuggling as soon as I give him a good clean, and we’ll give him lots of snuggling, but it really can’t be a substitute for the company of litter mates.

This has been a hard year for me with pups. I haven’t had a litter in almost seven years, and then two out of my first three have dead pups. I know it’s just all about bad luck and bad timing, but it’s hard not to take it personally. I’ve been lucky when it comes to breeding – until now, I’ve only ever lost three pups at birth, one litter due to veterinary negligence, and one week old pup. That’s pretty good, for almost 18 years of breeding. As I said to Sean, if I’d had this kind of bad luck in my first year of breeding, I doubt I’d still be in Frenchies. This kind of heartache is hard to justify on an ongoing basis.

For now, I’m just going to watch over this little tiny one, and give extra hugs and kisses to Dexter, Izzy, Harley and Delilah. I’m more thankful for them now than ever.

Here are a few pictures I shot yesterday. The rest can be found over on Flickr.