A gift that truly keeps giving
I'll be home for Christmas.
It was 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve as the last of the humans walked by. I was getting ready to curl up again in a ball of fur as the volunteers began to fill the water bowls and food dishes one last time before they went home to be with their families.
Memories of Christmases past flooded my brain as I recalled how it seemed I never could get comfortable in just one home. Something always went wrong or they just didn't love me after I chewed up a shoe or couldn't hold my bladder until morning and wet on that new carpet.
One time I brought the Christmas tree down with a crash, not realizing my foster parents just put it in a coffee can full of water. All I wanted was some of that popcorn on the string. I usually left those strange red berries.
I hated to act like a Scrooge, but I was tired of putting on that happy face a hundred times a day, wagging my tail and barking up a storm.
Just then, a young family walked in with the manager of the shelter. They had three cute kids and a mom and dad to boot. I got up expecting to be passed by, but the kids came right up to my kennel. They stuck their fingers through the cage doors as I licked them adoringly.
"Mommy, Daddy, come over here. We want this one. Can we have him? Please, oh please..." the children screamed in unison.
Both the mother and the father looked at each other but couldn't resist. It was Christmas Eve, mind you.
"I guess I better draw up the papers of adoption," the manager said. "He's been a few places in the past, this one. He's got a real reputation for a troublemaker I hear. Are you sure you want this one?"
We loaded up in the van and headed for home. I was being mauled by three rugrats who couldn't get enough of my "kisses." I poured on the mush as I sensed my freedom. Where I was headed? Who cared? I was going home for Christmas.
We pulled into a long wooded driveway to a house lit up from rooftop to ground level with colorful lights of the season. As the car door opened, I bounded out with all three of the kids in tow. For once I was going to do it right as I squatted discretely to do my business.
"Let him relieve himself, kids. It's been a long ride," the father humorously said.
He looked across at his bride with a boyish grin she had not seen since their courtship. Her eyes met his in one of those "I love you" expressions.
That night we tore around the downstairs and up the staircase to the bedrooms. I was having the canine time of my life. I didn't want it to end. I was truly home for Christmas.
It's been 10 years now since that wonderful night of bliss in my new home. I hit it off with my new family perfectly, except for the few times I dug up the garden and wet occasionally on my master's prize roses, eventually killing them. I just thought I was watering the plants and doing a little cultivating.
My joints are stiffer now and I seem to have trouble seeing like I used to. Doc Swenson, the vet, said I was getting cataracts or something last time I was in for shots and my annual physical. The kids don't play with me as much, but the missus and mister take me on a country walk every day. Can't beat that.
As I lay comfortably before the fire this Christmas Eve, I feel pretty lucky to have it so good. I can't help but wonder what happened to all my buddies back at the shelter. I sure hope they went to a new home for Christmas.