Fiction: A Dog Named Christmas
(Page 3 of 17)
I raised my voice slightly for Todd’s benefit and carefully said, “There is no obligation to keep the dog, is that correct?”
“That is absolutely correct,” said the woman.
“Do you have enough volunteers?” I asked, and then quickly realized that the question was most absurd.
“No, sir, there are never enough volunteers.”
I was not necessarily opposed to the idea, but I’ll admit there were many questions running through my mind.
Was this just a scheme for the shelter’s employees to get a few days off for the holiday? How could the dogs possibly know it was Christmas? Wasn’t this a holiday for humans? Would I feel guilty when I returned the dog? And, of course, would Todd understand and accept the transitory nature of the program?
Ultimately, it was one of the times in my life when I took a deep breath and trusted that it would all work out for the best.
I exhaled and said reluctantly, “OK, we’ll take a dog.”
By the time the week of Christmas rolled around, Todd and I were making a game out of the Christmas dog.
“We get the dog on the 23rd, and when do we return him?” I asked.
“Dog goes back on the 26th,” Todd said.
“When does Christmas end, Todd?”
“Christmas ends on the 26th, Dad, and that’s when the dog has to go home, back to the shelter.”
I put my arm around Todd’s shoulder and hugged him.
“That’s good, Todd,” I said. “We’re going to have fun with the Christmas dog, aren’t we?”
He smiled and nodded his head.
My old truck moved toward town at a pace too slow for Todd. Those size-twelve-sneakered feet tapped twice for each beat of the music that played on the truck’s AM radio dial.
Even though he knew how long it took to get to town, Todd kept asking, “How much farther, Dad?”
“Ten minutes, son,” I said. “Do you remember when we take the dog back, Todd?”
“Yes, Dad,” Todd said. “The dog goes back on the 26th. That’s when Christmas ends.”
“Very good, Todd. You know, if this goes well and if we all have fun and get the dog back home on time, maybe we can do this again next year. Would you like that?”
“Sure,” Todd said, looking up at me with a smile, which made me happy that I was doing this for him.
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