Fiction: A Dog Named Christmas
(Page 14 of 17)
“Thanks for everything, George,” Beth said. “You and Todd did a good thing.”
I remember feeling a little embarrassed because I wanted Beth to know that I had nothing to do with it. I turned away from the receiver, but spoke to Todd in a voice Beth could hear.
“I think they found a home for all the dogs. You did good, Todd.”
His face beamed. I was just about to wish Beth a Merry Christmas when her voice returned on the line with a slightly disappointed tone.
“Well, George, I said we found a place for all the dogs we had this morning. But we just had one show up – a female,” she said, and then paused. “You don’t have to tell Todd, though. I can come back tomorrow and feed her. It’s OK – I don’t want him to think he let us down. I know he tried so hard to find a home for all of the dogs.”
“Can you wait half an hour longer?” I asked.
“George,” Beth said, and then paused for a long moment. “I think she’s going to have puppies.”
Orion loomed in the south. We could see deer in the meadow beyond the house, and we could hear a hoot owl’s cry from the barnyard. But what I remember most about that night was the excitement that lingered in the cold winter air. Something special was happening in our corner of the universe. The gifts would have to wait.
Mary Ann, Todd, Christmas and I were crammed in the cab of the truck. We were headed to the shelter to get the last unadopted dog in Cherokee County.
Mark and his boys stayed behind to fix up a place in the barn for the dog. They dragged heat lamps out of the garage and rummaged through the house for old blankets and bowls.
“Maybe we should just go into the shelter business,” I joked as we pulled out of the driveway.
Todd seemed pleased with the idea, and I added, “I’m kidding, Todd. The shelter doesn’t get paid for keeping the dogs. Animal shelters are not a business.”
He looked confused, so I continued, “They’re like a charity. No one pays for keeping the dogs. The dogs don’t have owners to make payments.”
Todd looked puzzled, and I realized I had gone too far.
“The dogs don’t have homes,” I said. “That’s why they’re at the shelter. Do you understand?”
Todd was quiet. The only thing he knew about the shelter was that it kept lots of dogs. It never occurred to him how or why the dogs were there.
Finally he sorted it out and asked me, “Why don’t the dogs have owners?”
“It’s hard to say, Todd. Some people get a dog and it just doesn’t work out. Some people have to spend lots of time taking care of themselves, and they don’t have anything left to share with an animal,” I said, and then added, “But you’re not like that, are you?”
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