This warm Christmas tale is designed to bring joy to all people (especially dog owners!) this festive season.
I sat alone, hunched over in my small kennel, dog barks echoing around me. Outside, bells rang, filling the air with melodious sound, and snow fell softly, blanketing the barren winter ground. My paws tucked under my belly, I kept my eyes downcast and my gaze sombre. I had been in here for almost a year, and because of my quiet temperament and shy demeanour, I had not caught as much attention as the other dogs had. Footsteps echoed up and down the long corridor. The air reeked of nervous anticipation and excitement as the handle turned, the door swung open and a young woman trailing a woollen scarf strolled in, her eyes darting from dog to dog, barely able to contain her glee. She smelt of cinnamon and orange zest and Christmassy things, and despite my sadness and determination to remain quiet and grave, I couldn’t stop my whippety brown tail from thumping.
She strolled past, undecided but composed, her auburn ponytail swishing behind her. She walked right past my cage, and in utter desperation, I gave three short, sharp barks in quick succession. I heard her pause, then retrace her steps. She peered through the bars at me, and I walked forward and placed a lone paw on the door handle. My gesture was irresistible. She fell in love.
Eyes shining with sympathy, she reached out her other hand and patted my head. My entire body, from tip to tail, shivered with pleasure at the loving caress.
I saw her turn and call a volunteer. The bolt clanked as it was drawn back, and for the first time in an age, a leash was clipped onto my stiff collar and handed to the kindly woman. I pranced ahead, my floppy ears cocked with alertness, my tail wagging tentatively. The woman bent down and gave me a quick kiss on my nose. “My Christmas baby.” She whispered, joy in every syllable.
I flicked out my tongue and licked her cheek and she laughed delightedly. “I’ll take him.” She said to the volunteer. After a brief exchange of paper, the door to the outside world was unlatched and it opened into a chilly street. I plunged my nose into the fluffy white stuff that was tumbling from the grey, grey sky, my tail whirling furiously. What was it? I trotted to the car with my new owner, drinking in the delicious sights and smells of this vast city. As I leapt up in the passenger seat as if I had done it all my life, I felt a tingle of eagerness. This was it! I was leaving.
Ten years later…
The Christmas tree was lit, the baubles winking in the crackling firelight. The woman is grey-haired now, and wrinkles line her twinkling face. An old tawny dog lies by her, grey fur fringing its muzzle. It is plump and well-fed, and it stretches out with a contented groan. It regards the room with a bleary, half-open amber eye. It is warm and safe, cosy by its mistress’s feet, as the blizzard lashes outside.