by Debbie Loesel Stanton
Lucy, a large golden-haired dog and Abbey, a small white dog, lived in Florida. The year had gone quickly for them, and it was already December when their owner Ken took them to their favorite dog park. They loved running and playing at the park once a week.
They were so thankful that he took very good care of them.
On this December Saturday, Lucy and Abbey got tired of playing. Ken looked over at them when they were whining and barking. This was not too unusual, as Lucy and Abbey often had meetings to discuss important matters.
Their meeting today had to do with Christmas and Santa Paws.
“Abbey, do you think that Santa Paws really exists? We never seem to hear from him,” Lucy said.
“Daddy takes me to get groomed whenever I need it. Other than that, I don’t really need anything,” Abbey responded, running a paw over her soft, curly fur that included a bow near her face.
“Well, suppose Santa Paws does exist. Do you think maybe Daddy could write a letter to him for us? We really need to try something different, Abbs,” Lucy said.
“Oh! I’ve got it!” Abbey said, scratching the grass for a few seconds. This is the way Lucy had taught her to do the equivalent of snapping one’s fingers. “We can imitate Daddy—that would be better than accepting gifts from Santa Paws.”
“Oh,” Lucy said, “do you mean imitate him being helpful to everyone and donating blood and all that?”
“Well, er, not the donating blood part. I hate needles! But I mean, being helpful and caring and giving. I just don’t know of a nicer person than he is,” said Abbey.
“Sister, you’re a genius!” Lucy exclaimed. “So, do you still know Dashing Dachshund from next door?”
“Of course. But so do you. Remember, we talk together through the fence for a little while every day?” Abbey said.
“Yes. What we need for our project is Dashing’s long snout and his brother German’s height and bulk,” Lucy announced her plan.
“What in the bones are you talking about?” Abbey said as they heard Ken call to them. “C’mon, girls, let’s go home!”
“Coming, Daddy,” they said, but Ken only heard them bark as they ran back to their car with delight.
Once home, the rest of the day seemed long, as if Ken would never get to bed and be fully asleep. Finally, when the dogs heard his light snoring, they walked to the opposite end of the house to continue their meeting from the dog park. This time, instead of barking and whining, they literally aligned their heads to be side by side. In this way they could communicate what they had to do.
Lucy and Abbey talked with Dashing and German at the fence and laid out their plans. Their dog friends were very agreeable to the whole thing. The brains, brawn, and hearts of four dogs is a mighty force indeed.
With logic-defying actions, their project began. The four dogs assembled in Ken’s garage. Lucy and German put their front paws on the lid of the big chest freezer and pulled on it. Once the lid of the freezer rested against the back wall, they picked up all the cuts of meat in the freezer and tossed it over their backs.
Because Abbey and Dashing were small dogs, they had to carry the pieces of meat in their teeth, one at a time, over to the old red wagon on the side wall.
“Okay, Dashing,” Lucy said, “do your thing!” Dashing grabbed some rope and with his long snout, laced it through the wagon’s handle.
“fjf ecdj idid,” Dashing mumbled with his mouth full of rope.
German and Lucy got on their hind legs in front of the garage door. It was the old-fashioned kind of door that pulled out instead of up and down. The door was pushed open, and Dashing pulled the wagon outside to the driveway by running. Once the wagon had cleared the door, he dropped the rope. Lucy picked it up with her mouth, and all four dogs ran down the street. They ended up at the first vacant lot they saw.
The word had gotten out to all the dogs on the block and even some from the next street. They showed up for a real treat, for which they wagged their tails. Lucy and German grabbed the meat with their mouths and with a bob of their necks, gave each dog more than one cut of meat.
“Is one of you guys Santa Paws?” a mongrel asked Lucy and Abbey.
Shrugging their shoulders as only dogs can do, they said, “We don’t know. We’ve never seen him ourselves.”
Lucy gave a shrill whistle to her sister and their accomplice dogs, and the four ran back toward their homes. The dogs that received the meat each barked their thanks.
Back in Ken’s garage, Abbey said to German and Dashing, “here, you guys can each take one of the leftovers.” Then Lucy put a paw on Abbey’s back. Lucy disagreed with Abbey’s statement and whispered to her, “I saved enough meat back from the others so that we could give German and Dashing TWO pieces each. They look like they don’t get enough to eat, right?”
That’s when Abbey noticed the ribs that were sticking out on their neighbors and felt the same compassion that Lucy had. Their doggie friends were very hungry.
“Yes, take two each,” Abbey corrected herself and then whispered to Lucy.
“Are you sure you brought all the meat out of the freezer?” She would give the world to her friends if she could. Lucy, having the same heart-set, said, “Yeah, I’m sure—but I know where Daddy keeps our surplus dry dog food.” And they devised a plan for how to get everything over the fence.
“Okay, guys, we have to hurry! Our dad and your folks might come home any minute!” Dashing, being a dachshund that can burrow underground, hurriedly dug a tunnel under the fence that he could use to get home. Lucy and German threw the cuts of meat over the fence. That left the biggest obstacle, the big bag of dog food. No problem for these creatures!
The wagon was brought up to the fence. Lucy got in it, and German threw the bag into the wagon. Then Lucy took the end of the bag in her mouth and threw it over the fence. Victory! German got in position far enough back from the fence that he’d be able to jump back to his yard. Lucy seemed to remember that he had scored high in the doggie Olympics last year. German jumped and cleared the fence easily. Now German and Dashing were back in their own yards with more food than they had before their escapade.
Back in the garage, Lucy must have had a little mysterious help, because she was able to put her paws around the back-door’s knob and open the door for them. Once in the kitchen, she backed up to the door and pushed it shut. Then Lucy and Abbey cuddled up together on the dog bed and took a long nap.
Ken came home from work, and the dogs ran up to him, smiling and barking and wagging their tails. He hugged them and felt so glad to be home.
“Hi girls! Well, how are you? Get into any mischief while I was gone?” If only he knew.
Soon his landline phone rang. The dogs looked at each other with concern in their eyes. What if their beloved Ken found out that they had stolen from him?
In a few seconds, he looked over at the dogs while he listened to his caller. “Yes, well, glad we could help. No thanks necessary. Take care now,” Ken said as he hung up. He cleared his throat, and the dogs knew what that meant. Or thought they knew.
“Aw, c’mon, girls, you don’t have to be sad. I’m not mad at you for helping your friends. Do you know, the neighbor lady was crying, she was so happy with what you did? And I’m very proud of you! But what I want to know is this: How did you ever get all that food over to them? Was it kind of like the story I told you last week, the one where Peter robbed others to feed Paul? Or, in your case, you stole meat from me to feed someone who was almost starved? I love you girls, have I ever told you that?” Lucy and Abbey tried to jump in Ken’s arms. They were able to smother him with kisses and danced in circles. They also barked and whined. Abbey spoke to Lucy in Dog, “Phew. Glad he didn’t get mad. Too bad he doesn’t know that we fed other dogs, too.”
Lucy spoke back, “It’s okay that he doesn’t know everything. The important thing is, we were able to help. Maybe Santa Paws really does exist!”
Ken went into the living room and while relaxing, tried to figure out how the cuts of meat and the kibble had found their way to the neighbor dogs. Soon he realized that he would never know, but that was fine. The love that was in their family—the part skin and part furry kind of family—needed no answers. Love was all they needed.
Top Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash
Background Photo by Evelyn on Unsplash