Happy Chanukah everyone…my favourite holiday!
Burning candles for eight nights, torn wrapping paper, discarded ribbon, dreidels spinning across the floor, jelly donuts, fried potato latkes with onions and chocolates in foil. Wow, that’s a lot of hazards and what the heck is Chanukah?
Let me first say, I used “dogs” in the title simply because this is a dog site, but these tips are helpful for all pets we share our homes and lives with.
A Chanukah story
For my beloved readers who aren’t familiar with the holiday of Chanukah, or who have heard the term but don’t know the details, here’s a quick summary.
The Greeks destroyed the holy temple. A group of Jews called the Maccabees fought against the Greeks and won, even though they were fewer in number. The Jews cleaned up the temple and found only a very small bit of oil which they used to light the menorah, which miraculously burned for 8 days. Hence we light candles for 8 days.
The candle holder is called a menorah. On the first night one candle is lit, on the second two are lit and so on until all 8 holders are filled. Candles are always placed from right to left, yet lit from left to right, signifying the greatness of the miracle that increased on each night.
All holders must be the same height except the middle one called the Shamash. That is taller than the rest and holds the candle from which all others are lit.
Sounds beautiful doesn’t it? It really is, but lit candles are always a hazard when pets are around, and 8 nights!! The menorah is usually on a table or window sill, but we all have pets that can find a way to reach.
A dreidel is a 4-sided spinning top used to play a game of the same name. There is a Hebrew letter on each of the four sides – nun, gimel, hey, shin. They represent the first letter of each of the four words that make up the sentence (translated into English) “A great miracle happened there” – meaning the land of Israel.
Although dreidels come in various sizes, they are typically small and a definite choking hazard. Watching them spin is a very tempting sight for many, and for those of you who have dogs that like to experience everything with their mouths, it’s a danger.
Gelt, the Yiddish word for money, is given to kids as a gift. How many dropped coins end up on the floor, resembling a very tasty looking treat to your dog?
Chocolate Chanukah gelt
Chanukah gelt also refers to the gold foil wrapped round chocolates that resemble coins. Wrappers are nice shiny objects that attract our dog’s attention, and are perfect for licking any melted chocolate off of. We do know the dangers of chocolate don’t we?
Donuts and latkes
I love them and I’m sure the dogs will as well, but are a definite no-no. Both are delicious but oily which can cause pancreatitis in dogs, and latkes contain onions, another no go food.
But…you can make latkes just for your dogs with this delicious sounding recipe!
Grate a couple of white or sweet potatoes, mix with 1 egg and some flour, then drop by the spoonful onto a parchment lined baking tray. Bake around 350 until starting to brown on top then flip. Serve with cottage cheese.
When it comes to Chanukah gifts, there is no “standard” approach. It’s possible some families give their kids a little something each night, some give one gift, others a bit of money to teach them the value of giving. That’s a personal choice in every home, but I bring this up because of the dangers of leaving ribbon and paper around to be used as a chew toy and yes even swallowed.
Is this the most dangerous holiday ever?
It’s funny because as I write this, it sure sounds like it! What a way to put a dapper on it.
Chanukah is all about having the family gather together, each lighting their own menorah and creating one beautiful display, then reciting the prayers and singing the songs. I truly is a beautiful experience.
It’s not difficult to keep pets safe on Chanukah, but you have to be vigilant.
- Keep an eagle eye on your dog (and all pets) while lighting the candles and until they have completely burned out
- Close the door and keep everyone out, although that is a shame because they’re so beautiful to look at
- Place a baby gate or barrier across the door so your dog has to stay on the other side
- Games of Dreidel, eating and opening gifts can be done on the table, out of reach of your dog. When finished put everything away, or make sure the chairs are under the table so your dog can’t reach.
Personally I keep the dogs with us so we can all celebrate together, but I do keep a very close eye on what they and everyone else are doing.