Listen, my Children,
and you shall hear
of the Holiday Hounds,
and how they spread Christmas Cheer,
It started one day
in the Mall, at the center,
With Santa awaiting,
just as they entered.
It was "Bring Your Pet to the Mall" day at City Center Mall. It was also the holiday season and the Mall was packed. Bustling shoppers hurried to and fro, making purchases and carting packages around by the arm load. It was also vaguely dismal. There were few smiling faces, many angry people and a distinct lack of Christmas Cheer.
Due to some spectacularly poor scheduling choices it was also "Picture Day with Santa," and "Mall Wide 10% Off Day." The mall management were scratching their heads. No one could figure out how so many events were scheduled simultaneously. The boss was very angry over the whole thing, but no one could find any evidence that any of the staff had overlooked normal protocol. The boss and the head of Security stood in the boss' office, overlooking the crowds below. "I don't know how it happened, but we're going to have to make it through this. On top of this fiasco, it's freezing cold outside and raining. Everyone and their brother is going to be here today." He looked down below at the nearly empty Christmas Scene containing one Santa, two elves (who were surprisingly good character actors) and almost no one in line. The boss thought it was probably for the best that there were almost no pets in the mall today. Perhaps next year, they should just cancel the Santa altogether. It just didn't seem to be popular anymore.
Some moments later, the main door to the Mall opened. Mom, Dad and the kids came through the Mall Entrance. Prince and Lady eagerly led them forward into the nearly impassible crowd. The crowd didn't so much part for them as they got out of the way. Greyhound noses have a way of making people move. Still, Prince and Lady left behind a few smiles as they passed. Prince was surely enjoying his role as lead nose poker. Lady, more refined, confined herself to stepping on toes. Mom apologetically told the recently toe-stomped that "We call that ‘Greyhound Love’. It's really quite sweet when you get used to it!" and they hurried onward.
"Lady," said Price, "I feel it. Do you feel it?"
"Of course, Prince. I know who it is. Do you?"
Both Lady and Price encouraged the family to stop a moment. They did this by stopping and refusing to budge.
"Ok," said Prince, "Let's go see Santa! I wonder what he's doing here today."
With that they led the family off at a 90 degree angle directly towards Santa. Neither Mom, nor Dads nor Kids could sway the two hounds from their chosen course. Almost effortlessly, they made their way through the crowds. Mom almost never fell, Dad nearly never used bad words and people very nearly didn't drop any packages. As they approached Santa, he helped a young lad down from his lap, got up from his chair and met the two Greyhounds and their family at the little fence surrounding the little Christmas village.
"Well, HO HO! What fine hounds you have here! HO! This fine boy is a real Keeper and she's certainly a regal little Lady, isn't she?" Prince and Lady fairly glowed with the attention.
Mom and Dad were a little out of breath from almost never falling and nearly never using bad words, but they managed some polite greetings and muttered apologies for having disturbed Santa.
"Never you mind, never you mind at all! What a delight it is to see such Jolly Great Christmas Hounds! May I say hello to them?"
Dad smiled and said "Of course! They love meeting people!"
To everyone's astonishment, Santa got down on one knee and whuffed, rooed, barked and whined at Prince and Lady. Children smiled, parents chuckled and the mood lightened considerably. Their Christmas Spirits rose even higher when the dogs answered back! It was all very amusing and sweet but what they didn't know was that Santa was having a conversation with Prince and Lady.
"So, my 'hounds." said Santa, "I have a job for you two. Just hold on a moment while I talk to your humans!"
"Sure thing, Santa," Prince replied. "We'll help you any way we can!"
To Mom and Dad, Santa exclaimed, "It seems like a year since I've seen such fine Greyhounds. You guys look like you're going to be busy shopping. Why don't you let me watch these two while you shop? They can take pictures with all the boys and girls and you can pick them up when you're finished!"
Mom started to say no and Dad started off with a very skeptical look on his face, but Santa looked at them and they noticed his eyes (how they twinkled) and saw his dimples (so Merry!) and how his cheeks were like roses and his nose was so like a cherry and they found themselves not only agreeing, but handing over Prince and Lady's leashes. They walked off to do their shopping, so very happy that Prince and Lady could be a tiny little part of Christmas at the Mall this year.
Prince and Lady settled comfortably in the Christmas Village next to Santa. The elves brought little boys and girls to Santa to have their pictures taken with him and the hounds. The line grew steadily and all the little faces in the crowd were joyous and their parents so happy and their Christmas Spirits grew and grew. Soon there was laughing and even some singing and the line continued to grow.
After a while, after many pictures with many children, Santa winked at the crowd and time stood still. He looked at Prince and Lady and said, "We haven't much time to talk. I can use Christmas Magic only so much before Christmas Eve, you know. Christmas Cheer is nearly at an all-time low this year. I have a plan to bring back that Christmas Magic this year and really turn things around. I need you each to pick a Greyhound Christmas Ambassador and I will grant them some Christmas Magic so that they can bring Christmas Cheer back to the people who need it the most."
"Why us, Santa? Why do we need to pick another Greyhound?" Lady asked. "Why can't we be the ones to spread Christmas Spirit?"
"I have other plans for you, Lady, and Prince. Choose well and quickly."
Prince pondered for a moment and said, "I choose Jack Squat. He gets out to see lots of people so he has a good chance of finding the people who need help the most."
Lady also considered for a moment and answered, "Bo! I choose Bo. His human takes him out to all sorts of places to write stories about things he sees. Maybe Bo will help his human write a story that will bring Christmas Cheer to a lot of people!"
Santa laughed merrily and said, "It shall be so." With another wink, time started once again and they went on taking pictures and getting attention and making families happy.
Soon enough, Mom, Dad and the kids came to collect Prince and Lady. They walked out of the mall together and headed back home, Christmas Cheer rippled through the crowds as they passed..
The Holiday Hounds did Santa’s bidding,
their choices were made,
though the kids left behind
had wished that they'd stayed.
The 'hounds who were Chosen,
did not quite yet know,
that it was their charge,
Christmas Spirit they'd grow.
Darkness settled slowly
on the homes that they kept.
Santa spoke to them both
while deeply they slept.
"Santa," they'd asked,
"how do we do these good deeds?"
"Just do what you do
and see where it leads!"
The morning dawned after
a night full of good dreams.
They would both do their duty,
no matter how hard it seemed.