I'll always remember the panic at my sister's house one Christmas when Captain, her beloved mutt, made his bid for freedom and went missing.
My siblings carried out a lengthy manhunt — or "mutt-hunt," rather — to no avail.
Finally, spent from hours of searching the neighborhood, everyone collapsed in the living room, hoping that Captain would return.
Just then, we heard scampering and a thump on the front porch.
My sister ran to the door, in front of which stood Captain, pleased and panting. He looked perfectly elated, victorious even, with a fat, greasy ham bone between his teeth and a healthy sprig of pine tucked haphazardly behind his black, furry ear.
No one was sure where he had been, but it was clear he had had a fantastic time.
What we didn't realize then was how fortunate we were that he survived his festive fete.
Holiday festivities and visitors can fill a home with love and good cheer. But with them comes potential for inadvertent illness and injury to pets. Pet owners should be aware of possible pitfalls and take precautions amid the merrymaking.
Pets on the lam
Dr. Tara Cumley, a veterinarian at the Animal Health Clinic of Funkstown, said dangers to pets abound during holiday gatherings. Chief among them is pet escape.
"Around the holidays, people have a lot of visitors who don't know the dog or cat's habits," Cumley said. "They may not be closing gates, for example, and the pets may accidentally get out."
As a result, Cumley said she commonly sees pets who have been hit by vehicles around the holidays.