Nobody loves Christmas like my dog Sally. She’s our calendar every year. Before we even think about a Christmas tree, Sally plants herself in our living room right where we set up every year.

We all love Christmas, but I guess we’ve gotten a little less enthusiastic over the years. My brother, sister and I were always the first up before the sun had even begun to show on Christmas morning, eagerly waiting for my parents to get up so that we could run downstairs and get the party started, but we’ve all gotten a little old. At 22, I’m the baby, so none of us get moving in the morning without a little coffee first, making getting up early a little anti-climactic. But Sally gets up at 4 a.m. sharp every Christmas and if you don’t beat her down there she’ll open everyone’s presents without you.

Every year Sally opens just about everything under the tree, a lot of which is actually hers, and she does it with tender care and surgical precision. Sally’s love of Christmas has always been reverent, never greedy, which makes it especially sad that she never got what she wanted. Sally died two years ago while I was here at school and the holidays really haven’t been the same sense.

The emotions that I’m sure every dog owner feels after losing a pet that they love so much are there year round, but on Christmas things always seem worse. It’s hard to remember Sally laying under the tree or eagerly running around sniffing packages figuring out which one she wanted to unwrap first. Instead, all I can really see is the way she would toss toys, treats and everything else we bought her aside. Sally never got what she wanted for Christmas.

What kind of dog doesn’t want piles of stuffed animals and dried meats? Most people would probably think a stupid one, but Sally might’ve had one up on the rest of us.

Sally had one other habit that sticks with me: she liked to take in animals from the outside. Every year sally jumped the fence and went around the neighbor hood to play with deer and rescue baby birds that had fallen out of the nest. Nothing made her happier than coming home and dropping a baby bird into her bed to take care of until someone caught her and brought it back to it’s nest.

I’m from Connecticut and though my family came out of super storm Sandy mildly inconvenienced, there are people who still don’t have a place to live less than an hour away. Just as much as I want the new Wii U for Christmas, something still won’t be right even if it is under the tree.

I think what Sally really wanted every Christmas was a baby deer whose mother got hit by a car or a baby bird that had fallen out of the nest. She had a lot of love to give, but she never got the chance unless she jumped the fence.

Sally might have had the right idea. It’s easy for me, you and just about everyone else around us to talk about giving to those in need, but for some reason it’s always harder than it should be. Sally couldn’t talk, so she never got to do what she wanted on Christmas, but we don’t have any excuses.

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