Finding the Right Homes for Retired Hounds in the Delaware, Maryland, D.C., Virginia Area ...and Beyond!
Greyhound Night Shiftby Ron Powell
~~In tribute to and memory of Freeshanecorona and every Greyhound who needed a home but never found one.
Greyhound Night Shift
When at last he caught up to Santa, sitting as he was in his favorite chair, in his favorite spot and doing his favorite activity which, as we all know, is re-checking the Nice List for this year's big outing, the little elf could hardly speak. It took Santa several minutes to calm him down. "Now, tell me again, what's the big fuss about?"
"Santa, oh, my, all the reindeer are very ill. It looks like an outbreak of Chocolate Chip Fever!"
"Has the Head Stable Elf been notified? Will they be ready for the big outing tomorrow?"
"Why, it was he who sent me, Santa. He's tried EVERYTHING he can think of to cure them. He's applied hot compresses, cold compresses, candy cane tea, Sugar Plum Ointment, feeding the fevers, starving the colds, antler massages, gum drops, wintergreen, summergreen and Ol' Santa's Surefire Reindeer Balm and none of it is working! They'll certainly not be able to pull your sleigh tomorrow, Santa, they're just not going to be well in time!" Tiny little elf tears gathered in his eyes.
Santa put aside the Nice List and sat back heavily into his chair. He pondered and thought and wondered and hoped but he couldn't think of anything at all that would help his reindeer be ship-shape for the big haul tomorrow night. Chocolate Chip Fever wasn't exactly the worst sickness a reindeer could get, and they'd all be just fine in a few days, but for all of his reindeer to be sick at the same time? It had never happened before in all the history of all the Christmases of the entire world! "Tell Mrs. Claus and all the elves to keep on preparing. It'll take a Miracle to pull Christmas off, but all the children are counting on us. We'll just have to hope that there's enough Christmas Magic in the world to make Christmas possible this year." And with that, he laid his head back and closed his eyes and tried to find a solution to his worst Christmas dilemma, ever.
Preparations continued throughout the North Pole. All through the day, lists were checked twice, the sleigh was made ready, presents were prepared and, yet, not one spirit was bright. Everyone kept one eye on their tasks and the other on the clock, ever so steadily ticking away towards Christmas Eve and the Big Event. Santa had hardly touched his dinner when he announced that he would retire early and asked Mrs. Claus to see to the final preparations. "Don't worry, my dear, Christmas is all about magic and miracles and I've never known a problem that couldn't be solved after a good night's sleep."
That night, as Santa dreamed, he came up with all sorts of crazy schemes. He dreamt of asking the President for a couple space rockets to strap to his sleigh. He dreamt of asking the Queen of England to let him have a few fighter jets to tow him around. He even dreamed of asking the Australian Prime Minister for the loan of half-a-million kangaroos, or so. Deep in the night, when it's at it's most quiet, when the world itself seems to slumber, Santa even dreamed of all the children of all the world waking up on Christmas Morning without a single present to open. He began to toss and turn, his sleep no longer easy at all.
It is said that when one needs a Miracle the most, amazing things can happen. And so it was that, in the midst of Santa's unhappiest dream, a tiny little ripple not unlike a drop of water in a pond began at the North Pole. Slowly, as it traveled farther from the Pole, it gained strength and speed.
The North Pole is a long way from almost everywhere, so it took a while for the effects of Santa's dream to be appreciated. Most everything and everybody didn't even notice what had happened, except for a tiny feeling of sadness that soon passed. Most everyone and everything that felt the sadness soon forgot about it, but there is a special creature that walks the earth that is made up of 3 parts magic and 2 parts love that couldn't help but notice what happened. This creature felt Santa's sadness and knew exactly what needed to be done. This creature, in ancient times, was called a Christmas Jolly Great Hound. Now, we humans, we're a hasty bunch and we were not always the best spellers, so these majestic, magical beasts eventually became known simply as Greyhounds. They don't mind it so much, as long as the couch is good and comfy. Anyway, as the ripple passed by, all the Greyhounds around the world stopped and roo'd their hearts out at the North Pole. For most of the Hounds, the ripple was a call for support. For some very special Greyhounds, the fastest, the brightest, the cutest, the strongest, the softest, the cuddliest, the silliest and the kissiest it was a call to action.
It was getting down to the wire at the North Pole. There were very few hours to go and Santa, Mrs. Claus and all of the elves had not come up with a solution. They were so worried that they did not even notice that, in ones or twos or threes, a whole pack of Greyhounds was gathering outside Santa's Workshop. Finally, an elf noticed and tugged at Santa's sleeve. Wordlessly, he pointed out the window. Now, there isn't anyone or anything alive that can resist being jolly when Santa is happy and Santa's sudden burst of happiness went through the workshop like a Greyhound after a treat! Songs broke out and smiles could be found on every face as Santa opened the door and greeted each hound by name.
"Skylar! Romeo! Trev! Sunny! Maisy! Bragi! Galen! Wizzie! Heidi! Alfie! Darcie! Jordan! Ripley! Hotshot! Nephi! Ford! Chica! Dora! Amadeus! Beezie! Nina! Scarlett! Bean! CJ! Lincoln! Sonar! Bo! Lady! Prince! Magi! Jack Squat!" The Hounds lept and danced and roo'd and Santa danced right along with them. "Greyhounds! Why didn't I think of them? HO HO HO, where have my wits gone? Welcome, welcome to you all!" The solution to the Great Christmas Problem of 2015 had, literally, appeared on Santa's doorstep but now he was faced with a different problem altogether. "Oh my, my little hounds," said he, with a twinkle in his eye, "I am sure you can pull my sleigh, but I have only room for eight of you. How will we ever decide who will be on my team tonight?"
An especially enterprising young elf suggested that they have the Greyhound version of the Reindeer Games and the winners of those games could be selected to pull the sleigh. Santa readily agreed and out they went to Reindeer Stadium. They held the quickest round of games ever recorded. Every single game ended in a perfect tie. Despondent, Santa led the hounds back to the Workshop for some richly deserved treats. As he came into the Workshop, Santa exclaimed ",Why, by Christmas, if this isn't a pretty pickle. A sticky wicket. A tough nut to crack. Here I was in desperate need of a way to get my sleigh around the world and now I have more than ample means but no way to choose and I have less than an hour until we need to leave!"
Mrs. Claus came around the corner, ushered Santa to his favorite chair and placed a perfect mug of Christmas Hot Chocolate into his hands. With a twinkle in her eye, she said "Don't you worry, Santa. I think I have something to show you." A few minutes passed, then an elf tugged on Mrs. Claus' sleeve and whispered in her ear. "Finish up, dear, and let's go see your very own Christmas surprise!" Santa gulped the last of his Hot Chocolate and followed Mrs. Claus out the door to the workshop. There, before his very eyes was every Greyhound who volunteered to help, secured by a special harness which allowed each and every one of them to help Santa in his hour of need.
"Sure, Santa, it would only take eight of them to pull you 'round the world, but how could you say no to those darling faces?"
And so it was, with a hearty laugh and shake of his head that Santa was pulled forth into the night, not by his reindeer, but by the most magical, loving creatures ever to roam the earth. Very, very few people ever knew that Christmas almost didn't happen this year, but every Greyhound in the world knew that Santa could always count on them, in a pinch.
We left the North Pole at a frightening pace,
We flew through the air, the sleigh pulled behind,
We trotted on through the chilly night skies,
We landed on rooftops with 'nary a sound,
Down the chimney he went, with a huff and puff,
In a few lucky homes, snuggled close in their beds,
We went by the tracks for quick little breaks,
We left them behind to the sound of their roos,
We went all 'round the world and in record time, too.
Mrs. Claus sent us off with a kiss and a treat,
We ran and we ran as we'd never before,
Dawn came on Christmas after that magical night,
We did it for love and not for the glory,
The day after Christmas, trucks loaded up Hounds by the dozens and took them to all sorts of places. Their stories have yet to be told.
Greyhounds aren't just dogs, they are a way of life!