The Thanksgiving Rose
There was no way the mistress of the house in which the sad Belgian Malinois lived could know that her so-called "Thanksgiving Rose" brought a magic to a dog who'd long ago given up any hope of ever seeing the world outside of her household ever again.
"Look," the mistress excitedly told her husband, then cupping something in her hands as if a most cherished object. The mistress opened her hands to reveal a pretty white rose just unfolding from a bud state to its full glory.
"Where'd you get that," the master of the house queried.
"From the garden!" the mistress responded excitedly. The mistresses' voice then filled with such joy did cause Jo-Ann, the home's resident dog, to come out from under the desk to ascertain the source of his mistresses' joy. Jo-Ann regarded the rose her mistress was then showing to all the household cats with such glee and wondered why on earth such a thing was worth all the hoopla.
"Imagine that," the mistress told the master as she lovingly placed the rose in a small jar of water. "Plucking a rose off of the bush on Thanksgiving day! Maybe in Florida but Billy this is Delaware! I'm thinking this rose will bring some sort of magical fantasy to life. Isn't that how it always happens in the movies?"
Jo-Ann didn't know, nor did the mistress and most certainly not the master, that the Thanksgiving rose would indeed bring a magical event to the household. For the minute that the Thanksgiving rose rested proudly in the glass Jo-Ann began to understand the English language in such a way that would have shocked her mistress and master. As it was, the humans who so loved Jo-Ann were busy getting ready for the human Christmas holiday and didn't notice their dog's sudden interest in all things written, including computer screens, newspapers and books laying about the household.
It took the entire six weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas for the Belgian shepherd to understand the various Christmas traditions but in due course, and with the help of the magical Thanksgiving rose, Jo-Ann did learn about the concept of Santa Claus and the dog also learned a rudimentary form of verbal communication. Jo-Ann decided on Christmas eve she would wait up for the arrival of this strange human Santa Claus and armed with a new ability to communicate, Jo-Ann would ask this jolly human elf to grant her a Christmas wish.
Santa Claus arrived at the household on Christmas Eve just like Jo-Ann had read was the tradition. Jo-Ann had kept herself out of the way that Christmas eve as she didn't want her humans to know what she was up to. The humans of the household soon retired to bed, the cats all snuggled wherever the silly cats went at night. The house was quiet and certainly, what with a house of four cats, there were no mice about. Jo-Ann laid under the Christmas tree and awaited a jolly, round human in a red suit. Jo-Ann had a wish of her own that Christmas and with the help of a magical Thanksgiving rose, could ask Santa if he would grand her Christmas wish.
Of course Santa Claus could communicate very well with the animals and as soon as Santa saw the pretty Belgian Malinois waiting under the Christmas tree with excited eyes he knew that the big pup was waiting for him.
"The dogs in the neighborhood keep attacking me," Jo-Ann told the jolly human Santa.
Santa had, by then, carefully laid all the presents below the home's Christmas tree and filled the stockings with various gifts for the cats, dog, the mistress and the master. Jo-Ann had watched this nice human doing these tasks and was so glad that the Thanksgiving rose allowed her to understand the human language and most delightfully, get a chance to visit this Santa Claus that, until now, had been merely a suspicion in watchdog Jo-Ann's imagination.
The language Jo-Ann and Santa shared wasn't the normal conversational speak that the mistress and master would think language would be. Santa Claus, by nature of being Santa, generally understood the "speech" of the animals by interpreting their cocked ears, quizzical eyes and other body movements peculiar to a species. A few, like Jo-Ann that night, had been blessed by some earthly form of magic that allowed their minds to mentally form "words" that a human, magically blessed like Santa Claus, understood well enough to share thoughts beyond the normal greeting and goodbye Santa shared with most pets of the Christmas eve households he visited.
Santa sipped the hot chocolate and munched the cookies left for him by the humans as he "conversed" with the pretty Belgian Malinois.
"I am properly tethered to my mistress," Jo-Ann continued her explanation of the dog attacks on her the prior year, trying desperately to explain to Santa why her special wish this Christmas eve was so important to her. "The dogs all were loose and when me and the mistress were passing their houses, they would run across the lawn, out onto the public road, and attack me."
"Goodness," Santa said. "What did you do?"
"I did the only thing I could do," Jo-Ann dog-shrugged. "I grabbed the attacking dog and held it down. I mean," Jo-Ann continued softly with hope that Santa would not judge her harshly, "I didn't want to really hurt the attacking dogs as most of them were way smaller than me. But I couldn't very well allow them to keep biting me, now could I?"
Santa shook his head negative. Of course Jo-Ann had the right to defend herself!
"The mistress, she knew it wasn't my fault. She was always apologetic to the owners and in one case even helped pay the Vet's bill for the injured Pomeranian although that little rag dog deserved everything it got and more! What would possess a Pomeranian to attack a big dog like me?"
Santa regarded the big dog and gazed into her sad eyes. "So what's your problem?"
Jo-Ann's brown eyes lightened up a little. Maybe, just maybe...
"My mistress stopped taking me for a walk after the attack of the bichon-frise although I didn't bite that little dog because that dog didn't attack me. It just wanted to play with me and I knew it. But the mistress got too worried about all the loose dogs in the neighborhood and began to walk me around our own backyard."
Jo-Ann cast her big brown canine eyes toward the home's backyard and Santa followed her gaze. "So you still get to be with your beloved mistress, right?" Santa asked.
"Yes. And I'm fine with that. It's just that..."
Santa cajoled the big dog until she told Santa of her fondest wish this Christmas season. Santa sat and pondered Jo-Ann's request. He considered many of the problems he too encountered with dogs on his Christmas eve route and the damage done to his reindeer's knees if he didn't get to stop an errant dog soon enough. He decided to grant Jo-Ann's wish.
The Pomeranian was the first thing that Jo-Ann saw as Santa's sleigh landed in the yard of that little dog and its sometimes neglectful owners.
"Now don't forget, Jo-Ann" Santa warned as he grabbed his sack and exited the sleigh. "You can fly just like my reindeer. Your job is to entice the nasty little dogs away from my reindeer and keep them busy chasing you until I get these gifts delivered."
Jo-Ann saw that Pomeranian heading toward Santa's sleigh, then parked on the little dog's lawn as not all human homes have chimneys with handy access to large humans like Santa. This is just one of the secrets Jo-Ann learned as she joined Santa on his sleigh and took a ride around her neighborhood as Santa delivered the gifts. It might be just one night a year, but it gave Jo-Ann a chance to see the neighborhood again.
In return, it was Jo-Ann's job to distract the loose dogs as it seemed that Santa's reindeer too had been subject to the attacks of the little alleged canines that would settle on nipping reindeer knees in the absence of any other animal in the surround. And while the reindeer could fly away, often the team couldn't get off the ground before a few of them suffered annoying but mostly benign nips from the little dogs who wanted to be so big and brave.
Jo-Ann flew around the Pomeranian's yard and she loved the magical night and she loved teasing the hell out of that Pomeranian that didn't quite understand the notion of a dog that would be one minute on the ground and the next minute flying in the air above the ground, right out of reach of the Pomeranian's jaws.
Jo-Ann opened her eyes on Christmas morning in response to her mistresses' shout of joy.
"Jo-Ann! What are you doing here? Have you been out here all night?"
"What's going on?" Jo-Ann heard the master call from the other room.
"It's Jo-Ann, Billy. She evidently slept under the Christmas tree all night and goodness she looks like she's been outside all night. She's covered with snow and it looks like she's got leaves and ..." the mistresses' voice faded off as she busily brushed Jo-Ann's bedraggled coat of the debris collected on a late night Christmas eve ride in Santa's sleigh.
"Look at this!" Jo-Ann heard the mistress exclaim.
"Wow. Where did you get all those roses?" the master asked.
The entire Christmas tree was covered with pretty white roses, all of them blooming, all tucked into a vial of water and all of them affixed to the tree via a clip. With the lights turned on behind them, the roses all glowed prettily and filled the air with the perfume of a summer garden.
The mistress and master stood and regarded the sight of their pretty tree and wondered where all the roses then covering it came from. A glance out at the garden revealed that the rose bush from whence the Thanksgiving rose had come had long ago frozen and went dormant for the winter.
"I can only think that Santa left them," the mistress said softly, then reached down to scratch the ears of one happy Belgian Malinois that had celebrated the best Christmas eve ever.