If any picture ever spoke a thousand words, this one does – to me.
One very chilly December, right before Christmas, Katey Greyhound came to live with Bumper, Craig and me. Her assertive behavior with some rambunctious, unsupervised children at Thanksgiving had gotten her kicked out of her first adoptive home. When we met her at her foster home, she was quaking with nerves – a reaction we soon learned to recognize as part of her shy personality. Craig spoke soothingly to her, but she never stopped shivering, despite having staked out a toasty sun-beam to lie in. We were entirely in sympathy with Katey’s reaction to being annoyed by small children on Thanksgiving, so she came home with us for a fresh start.
You can’t really see the Christmas tree in the dark shadows behind Bumper (yellow dog, left hand side, looking bored but happy), but it’s there. It was Christmas day, and for some reason we had gone to the in-laws without the dogs. Katey was settling in with us so well, and I think the grandkids were home for Christmas. Anyway, we didn’t want to rock the boat, and figuring we had pretty well dog-proofed the house – which we HAD – we spent a long day away, eating Kay’s Christmas cookies until we were as round as snowmen, and unwrapping gifts at mercilessly slow pace.
A little over-stretched from food and socializing, we let ourselves in to a dark, quiet house early in the evening, expecting to wake up sleeping dogs for a much needed walk. At first, in the dim shadows of the foyer light, all we saw were a few little shreds of paper scattered between the couch and bookshelves. Craig, the more experienced dog person, quickly recognized the signs of potentially more serious mischief. Without even taking off his coat, he reached over to turn on the living room lamp. “What’s going on here? What’s going ON here?” he crooned to Bumper and Katey in a high, silly voice, as we followed a growing trail of scraps around the couch to where Bumper and Katey lolled amidst the savaged remnants of what seemed to be the entire Christmas edition of the Capital Times.
Instantly, we formed a vision of Katey merrily nibbling and chomping that paper into smithereens, with Bumper eschewing such activity as a waste of effort when a dog could so easily be, you know, sleeping. There was no question who the culprit was. Katey’s sheepish, flirty expression of innocent wrong-doing has never been far from my heart ever since, and if I ever want to understand mudita (sympathetic joy) I have only to remember my delight as we discovered how Katey Greyhound spent her first Christmas on Charles Lane. Of course, we couldn’t stop laughing and praising her. Katey could hardly have given us a better present – besides herself – than that trail of chewed newsprint, leading us straight to the spirit of Christmas Ever-Present.