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JoAnna Lou
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Canines in the Christmas Crèche
A dog is added to a NYC nativity this year

My pets are my family, so I can't imagine Christmas without them. They have stockings hung up on the fireplace, ornaments on the tree and presents waiting for them on Christmas morning. The way we include dogs in our traditions is a reflection of the important role they play in our life.

This year at St. Patrick's Cathedral, a dog figure will make an appearance in the Christmas crèche, thanks to Monsignor Robert Ritchie. Two of Ritchie's previous parishes included dogs in the crèches and after visiting two churches in Rome that had dogs, he decided St. Patrick's had to add one to their nativity scene.

Ritchie has always been a dog lover and the inspiration for the canine addition comes from his Labrador, Lexington. Fifteen years ago, Ritchie was mourning the loss of his dog when his best friend dragged him to a pet store. Ritchie swore he wouldn't get another dog, but ended up falling in love with a Labrador puppy who he named Lexington, the street the store was on. Today, Lexington is a loyal companion and beloved member of St. Patrick's congregation.

Lexington officially welcomed his crèche figure by licking it on the nose. Lexington II, as the figure is called, was carved at the same studio in Italy where the other nativity figures were created.

Of course, I'm not crazy that Lexington is from a pet store, but I loved this story about being inspired by our dogs and including them in our most important traditions.

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.
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Submitted by Lisa Wogan | December 9 2011 |

Dogs are cropping up in all sorts of decorative ways. Last night on my walk with Renzo, we saw a three-foot tall retro Snoopy with a Santa cap in the window of a neighbor's house.

Submitted by Anonymous | December 9 2011 |

I will admit that last night, my DH, DD (Dear Dog) and myself watched Disney's "Santa Paws" DVD (borrowed from neighbors with kids and dogs). A bit silly and predictable, sure. But we all loved it and it really put us in the holiday spirit.

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