Pets cook up some holiday baking-day mischief for Mom

The holidays are one of my most favorite times of the year — the baking, the giving to others, the peace, serenity and calm moments of the season. It all just warms my heart.

A couple weekends before Christmas, I broke out my Pioneer Woman super cape and spent two days baking dozens of cookies and other delectables.

Usually, just preparing the kitchen takes most of the time. I “ban” the cats from “my area” in the kitchen and pray the dogs spend the day napping (like they do most every afternoon).

I clear the counters and bleach down the kitchen, gather all my utensils, ingredients and supplies and get myself into the right mindset to bake, bake, bake, until I can’t possibly bake another cookie.

The day started so perfectly with every animal in their place (and not in my space) and of course, holiday music blaring to keep me in check.

All was going well until … I was in the middle of mixing up a batch of cookies when I heard it. Actually, I heard absolutely nothing, which in my gut tells me something is awry. The puppy was too quiet. Way too quiet.

I eyed her lying on the dog bed in the next room but couldn’t see what she had in her paws. Covered in flour, I turned off the mixer and gently set it upright against the bowl of half-mixed dough.

With floured hands, I started toward Rio (now nine months and 80 pounds) and was horrified to find our antique, ceramic baby Jesus from the manger in her grasp.

I was stunned that she had even figured out that the Nativity scene was on the high window sill, but she did, and now had captured one of the pieces.

Just as she prepared to tear off into the living room with me racing to rescue Baby Jesus, the loudest crash came echoing from the kitchen. I didn’t know which way to turn.

I heard the mixer hit the floor and power on. To my dismay, I ran out to find cookie mix being thrown all around the kitchen by the beaters gone rogue.

Just then, our 20-pound cat, Gracie Louise (the culprit caught red-pawed), flew off the counter almost knocking me off balance.

I grabbed the wild mixer and got it turned off just as Rio flew in the kitchen and started gulping down remnants of cookie dough off the floor.

Bracing myself as I blocked her from consuming any large quantities (I could just see the stomach issues she’d end up with), I wiped the floor, cleaned the mess and finished shouting at the dog and cat, who was now peering out from under the dining room table out of my tempered reach.

The cats know better than to jump on the counters while I’m baking, but Gracie saw her chance when I ran to foil Rio’s kidnapping caper.

After washing all my utensils and re-bleaching the kitchen area again, I continued on my baking spree, just as all four dogs ran out into the kitchen (hearing all the commotion) and decided they wanted to go out. Once again, I paused the baking process to tend to the dogs, chased the nosey cats away and waited to get everyone settled again.

I’m not sure how other people’s holiday baking experiences go, but this pretty much describes our holidays at the Hanna-Eckenrode household.

We do our best to pet-proof each room but inevitably my husband forgets and places shoes, hats or gloves within reach of the puppy. He finally decided we need to build high shelving units to house the most confiscated items. I have a feeling we’re going to need ladders to reach these shelves, because when she’s on her hind legs, she is eye-to-eye with us now.

And, yes, he wanted a puppy. Now, we have what we call our White Ghost (or kangaroo) of Patton. She is turning out to be the sweetest girl ever (I wouldn’t have it any other way) but she’s a monster puppy and stronger than any dog I’ve ever had.

I have a feeling that once spring breaks, I’ll be right back in obedience training classes with her. That’s my holiday plea, or warning to Linda at Shadyrock — H…E…L….P….!

We now have our own white snow dog helping to spread the holiday cheer from one end of the house to the other! Hope yours was as merry and bright as ours.

Amy J. Hanna-Eckenrode is the author of “Have Dog Will Blog,” editor of the Central PA Pets magazine and director of the Central PA Pet Expo. She can be contacted at ahanna or by mail: Paws and Reflect, c/o Amy J. Hanna-Eckenrode, Altoona Mirror, 301 Cayuga Ave., Altoona, PA 16602.