Do Dogs Remember Christmas Past?

Each Christmas for the past few years, our daughter’s dogs have been our surrogate children allowing us to indulge in buying toys. What I have always wondered, seeing the way one of them, Seamus—a rescue mutt of complicated genetic heritage—reacts to our placing their Christmas Stocking is, does he remember?

Of course the dogs have their own stocking, otherwise this wouldn’t be much of a story.

What I find intriguing is the way Seamus will exhibit such excitement over the stocking, sniffing at it, tail wagging enough to create a mild breeze, and taking up a position to keep a sharp eye for the moment he gets to see the contents.

Does he remember past Christmases? I know dogs react to routine and the familiar. I know he recognizes those of us who are around all the time, offering him food, water, snacks, and playtime, but does he have memories within of past moments such as Christmas?

Could it be those jerky, uncontrolled movements when he sleeps are not dreams of chasing rabbits or squirrels but memories of soft cuddly toys that squeak (or perhaps in Seamus’s mind, scream) whenever he plays with them? I don’t think he’s ever seen a Sugarplum, but could he have visions in his head?

As I watched him this Christmas, it was clear he knew something inside that stocking was for him; he knew it would be something he would love, and he fairly burst with anticipation as he waited for the slightest signal that the time had arrived to reveal the contents.

Seamus with (one of) his new toys on his new bed

Was it the memory of past Christmases replaying through his canine brain? Was it the glory of those past moments when toys upon toys and snacks upon snacks emerged for his snorting and sniffing approval? Was the almost childlike anticipation on his face because he remembered the wonders of Christmas Past?

I don’t know if I will ever understand what he thinks, but, until next year when our grandson arrives and new memories are created, the dogs have served as a reminder of a simple appreciation of the spirit of giving for Christmas.

I know full well I could put old toys inside that stocking and the dog would still quiver in anticipation. I know this because, I believe, he remembers the thrill of Christmas mornings and all those moments of being loved. And most importantly, he reminds us that it’s not what you get that matters but that someone cared enough to give you a present that’s important.

It creates memories.


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