Finding the Right Homes for Retired Hounds in the Delaware, Maryland, D.C., Virginia Area ...and Beyond!
The Holiday Hounds Bring Christmas Cheer - part 5by Ron Powell
~~The day had arrived,
The hours flew by,
The Angel and Greyhound,
The World was abuzz,
It was December 23rd. Night had fallen over the city, its lights becoming earthbound stars at which to marvel. There was an air of tenseness and waiting. It was like the city knew that there was magic waiting to be born. Limousines began to arrive at the palatial hall. Doors opened and people were greeted on the stairs outside. Black-clad men and alabaster adorned Ladies began to filter into the Ballroom. The men were given black masques and the ladies received white masques. Once inside the alcove, even the hounds were given the royal treatment, with boys getting black martingales and girls getting elegant white ones. Once inside, masques were donned, invitations were taken and those attending the ball were announced formally. Usually, the attendees would pause when they began to take in the entirety of the occasion. The Christmas decorations were elegant, tasteful and awe inspiring. There was a string quartet playing Christmas music, Santa was present for those who wished to have a photo taken, butlers roamed with trays of drinks and food, there was a champagne fountain for the ladies and gentlemen, a water fountain for the Greyhounds and a full buffet line. Everything was of the highest quality, impeccable and elegant, overwhelming yet welcoming.
Mom, Dad, Prince and Lady were announced. Mom, ever so elegant in her white dress, was positively gushing and even a little emotional as she descended to the main floor. Dad was speechless for once. Mom tightened her grip on his arm, "Honey, isn't it magical? It's like an Ice Castle for a Christmas Fairy Princess!" Dad tugged at his collar and looked decidedly uncomfortable. He took a 'Hello, My Name Is" sticker and a pen from his pocket. He wrote his name on it and affixed it to the forehead of his masque. "I don't want you kissing the wrong guy," he said. Mom sighed and told him that he needn't worry, she could certainly figure out who he was in any crowd. Dad took a glass of champagne from a passing waiter. Mom declined and leaned on Dad as they found their way towards a place at one of the tables.
Prince pranced regally beside Mom while Lady daintily stepped beside Dad. "This is some kind of pretty fancy shindig, Lady"
Lady, radiating happiness, replied "It's wonderful, Prince. I wish we could attend a ball every day. Promise me you'll stay with Dad tonight?"
"Ok." Prince had already decided to stay with Dad. Dad offered the best chance of dropped morsels and excessive amounts of treats. "Why?"
"No reason. Just be near in case he needs you."
Bo led his human into the ballroom, both looking dapper in their benighted party attire. Bo saw Prince and Lady and tried, ever so subtly, to point his wingman in their direction. It was a slow process, however, as the reporter's keen instincts were on high alert, scanning the crowd, looking for his story. He made small talk with other early arrivals as they wound their way through the crowd.
Lilly, looking both radiant and sublime in a white dress, unrelieved but for a stunning diamond necklace and a Marine Corps Pin, forgot all her pre-party jitters and looked with eager eyes around the Ballroom. Jack Squat patiently, regally, stood beside her. Dr. Stern, trying without success to hide his excitement, also scanned the room and found everything to be opulent but not pretentious. He watched her greet, without reservation, those around her as they meandered through the growing crowd. She made small talk, accepted and gave compliments and apparently without the least hint of anxiety. Though Dr. Stern was certainly no Grinch, his heart grew three sizes as he watched Lilly interact with those around her. Jack Squat was leading them slowly, inexorably, towards Lady and Prince.
Once the last of the guests arrived a man, also clad in a fine Tuxedo and masque walked out on to the stage adjoining the ballroom floor. The string quartet brought a particularly moving rendition of 'Do you hear what I hear?' to a graceful close. "Ladies and Gentleman, I will be your Master of Ceremonies this evening. Allow me to welcome you all to this most magical of evenings. Tonight we are here to celebrate Christmas, to come together and appreciate our Greyhound companions and not least, to honor the Angel and Her Greyhound." He made a grand but elegant flourish and a white banner with be-speckled and dazzling words which proclaimed 'Angels walk among us' lowered slowly into place. Most of the crowd applauded raucously. Lilly blushed crimson. The reporter anxiously scanned the crowd. The MC continued, "I believe in Christmas Miracles. I believe that the Angel and her Greyhound walk among us tonight. I believe we should honor them - everyday people leading ordinary lives but impacting those around them. Let us make Merry and, through our Merriment, honor them and appreciate their goodness." He clapped his hands twice and the quartet began another song. The butlers resumed moving through the room. People began to trickle onto the ballroom floor.
The evening was unabated perfection. Food was eaten, drinks consumed, there were no accidents, every dress was unstained and all but one tuxedo unblemished. Staff were on hand to handle Greyhounds while their humans danced or to take them outside, ever guarded, for potty breaks. Folks and their hounds took pictures with Santa. The MC wound his way through the crowd, encouraging guests, complimenting dresses, admiring Greyhounds. He made his way past Lilly's table. Jack Squat, promptly nosed the man's behind. He turned without thinking, readjusted the contents of his back pocket and patted Jack on the head. "You’re a good boy, Jack." and kept on going through the crowd. Jack waited patiently until Bo had wandered by, leading the reporter this way and that, trying to get closer to Jack, Prince and Lady.
"Hey Jack! I've been trying to get over here for a while now. I think we did our jobs. Santa is SURE to be happy with us." Bo was very excited indeed. It wasn't easy to guide humans to find the things they needed without letting them know they were being led. His human, especially, was very proud and didn't like to think he wasn't in control of things. It was ok, though. Bo was perhaps the subtlest Greyhound protector in all the world.
"Hi, Bo. The man who was on stage? I know him. I could smell the wallet I picked up. Lilly didn't notice, but that's who we helped that first day." Jack knew that Lilly sometimes missed things, because she had a lot to work through. It was alright, though, because Jack Squat knew his job was to make Lilly happy and to make sure, whatever the cost, that she did the things she needed to do to be happy, whether or not she knew it. "When you pass by Prince and Lady, let them know, eh? They'll want to talk to Santa, I'm sure."
"I'll do you one better, Jack." Bo started off towards Prince and Lady once more. It was going to be a slow process, but Bo was a patient Greyhound indeed.
In the fullness of time, Bo passed on the information to Prince and Lady. Shortly thereafter, at Mom's insistence, they were taken to Santa for a picture. Santa looked at them with twinkle in his eye. He wrinkled his nose and once again, time stilled.
"HO HO, my little ones. What a fine job you've done. Your Chosen hounds have not only sparked Christmas Cheer, they have spread it worldwide. I couldn't have asked for better. We're going to have work extra hard next year to top this year's performance! Now. I'll grant each of you one Christmas wish. Make it quickly, our time is running short!"
Lady thought for a moment. "I already have everything I need or want, Santa. Just make the Children happy on Christmas Day." Santa laughed and said, "Lady, you may consider it done, but I think you may already know you'll be getting something extra special this year! HO HO HO!"
Santa turned to Prince and, kneeling down to Prince’s level, received Prince's whispered wish. "OH HO, what a fine idea, Prince. The best wish ever! Yes, it shall be done! HO HO HO!"
Santa wrinkled his nose, and time flowed normally around them once again.
"Hey there, uh, boy. Yeah. Um. Ah." Prince put his paws on dad's leg and gave Dad a big kiss. It didn't change the goofy grin on his face, but it did help bring him back to earth again. Prince glanced at Lady. "Did you know about this?"
"Call it 'Lady's’ Intuition," and she went back to snuggling Mom.
The MC strode casually back onstage, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Greyhounds of all ages, let me thank you for a most enchanting evening. Truly, it was my honor to host for you. Please, let us have this last song together before we end this evening." He nodded towards the quartet and they began to play "o, Holy Night." The crowd was entranced by their artistry, but even more enthralled when the MC began to sing along with them, his performance masterful.
Lilly listened for a while, enchanted as the rest of them were enchanted, but then she sensed something was afoot and began to make her way towards the door, Jack in tow.
The song ended sweetly and the MC said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Angel and her Greyhound." He gestured grandly towards Lilly, who was now halfway up the stairs. Spotlights transfixed her and bathed her and Jack in a sea of light. She hurriedly covered the un-masked portion of her face and fled up the stairs and out into the night, to thunderous applause and waves of admiration.
The reporter tried, as politely as possible, to push his way through the crowd with Bo. If that was really the Angel, he had an exclusive interview to score. He couldn't catch her as she fled, but he did find a Marine Corps pin on the stairs. He grabbed it and ran outside the hall, only to see a flash of white dress as a cab door closed, then sped off.
Dr. Stern looked at him and said, "You know where to find her, I think. Christmas morning is a Happy Time, especially for children, I believe." He looked at Dr. Stern for a moment, then thanked him. "You know, I think you're right." They shook hands. Somehow, Dr. Stern got the impression that his time with Lilly was drawing to a close. It was a little sad, but also very uplifting.
Somewhere, in the distance, a clock chimed midnight.
Christmas Magic was coming,
Just one day to go,
Greyhounds aren't just dogs, they are a way of life!