Authors: Donna Ball
ALL THAT GLITTERS
A Raine Stockton Dog Mystery Christmas Short
By Donna Ball
Copyright 2012 by Donna Ball, Inc.
All rights reserved.
No part of this work may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the author.
Published by Blue Merle Publishing
Mountain City, Georgia 30562
This is a work of fiction.
, characters, events and organizations mentioned in this book are either the product of the author’s imagination, or used fictitiously.
here are people, I know, who say dogs don’t understand Christmas. These people clearly
have never had
dogs. These same people say that dogs have little, if any, long term memory and no ability to conceptualize or categorize events. I would very much like those people to explain to me how a field-champion golden retriever can sit by his handler’s side and watch four different birds be shot down and fall in four different places in a marsh six hundred yards away, and then, on command, go directly to each bird and return it to the handler—in the
order that it fell. And then they can explain why my
golden retriever, u
pon seeing a certain green felt wreath wrapped in plaid ribbon
come out of its box for the first time every year, automatically sit
chops in anticipation.
The Dog Bone Wreath is a Christmas tradition that has gone on as long as I have owned dogs. Ever
year on December fifteenth the wreath comes out and is decorated with colorful frosted bone-shaped dog biscuits and hung
in a prominent place
. Each day until Christmas, the dogs get a bone from the wreath, like a doggie Advent calendar. Since the wreath is only up ten days a year, and since a year is a really, really long time for a dog, you’d think they would forget in between Christmases. But they never do.
Dogs might not understand the concept of Christmas, but they have never misunderstood the concept of treats.
This year my young friend Melanie—age ten going on thirty—was helping me decorate
kennel for the Dog Daze annual Christmas party.
Her puppy, Pepper, was in
back having a shampoo and blow-out for the big event, and the rest of dogs
were out in the play yard with one of the kennel staff
ut Cisco refused to be distracted from the excitement he could literally smell on the air. He was Cisco, after all, and tracking was his
when the Dog Bone Wreath went up on its hook and Cisco,
with the instincts of a born chow-hound, looked up from the
cardboard wrapping paper tube he was chewing,
spotted the wreath without hesitation, galloped across the room and skidded to a perfect sit beneath it. Even I couldn’t prevent a grin and a respectful round of applause.
“Can he have a biscuit now
?” Melanie asked. “This is day one, right? I think he should have a biscuit now.”
t had taken the two of us half an hour to tie
the dozens of do
to the wreath with decorative plaid bows, and we had enjoyed the display for less than a minute
what kind of Scrooge would I be to say no?
the privilege of dispensing it.
“Come on,” I said, picking up the box of Christmas ornaments
“Everyone is going to be here at two, and we’ve got to finish decorating the dog tree. Grab that box of Christmas stockings too, will you?”
Melanie plopped her “Santa’s Helper” elf hat back atop her unruly dark curls, gave me a snappy salute, and picked up the box of miniature felt stocking
that we would be stuffing with dog biscuits as party favors.
Cisco made a quick detour to grab his half-chewed cardboard wrapping pape
tube, and dashed after us.
In a small town like
our Smoky Mountain community of
December is filled with parties, tree-lightings, pageants and concerts
I’m happy to say that the Dog Daze Christmas party is among the most pre
of all the community events
the dog crowd. It had started out as a way for
y business partner, Maude, and me to thank our clients for their patronage throughout the year, but had grown to include just about everyone in town with a dog. We had obedience and agility demonstrations, dog games and human games; cookies, cupcakes and punch for the humans and dog biscuits and fresh water for the canines. Everyone brought a wrapped dog toy for the gift exchange, and an item from the local shelter’s wish list which we collected in a big basket by the door and delivered to the shelter after the party. We opened up the play yard and let the dogs run and jump and tumble the
way God intended, and, as a happy bonus, we usually signed up a handful of new clients for obedience, grooming or boarding at the end of the day. It really was my favorite party of the year.
I kept the training room comfortably cool for the dogs, but as we left it for the gaily decorated entry foyer a
rush of warm air, holiday music, and the scent of a very expensive cinnamon and clove kennel deodorizer greeted u
s. Dog-bone studded garland wrapped in twinkling lights wreathed the room, and a
fragrant spruce tree
, also twinkling with lights, sat on an elevated table in a corner of the room.
Where dogs are involved, it’s never a good idea to put the Christmas tree on the floor.
Two long folding tables, decorated with plastic red-and-white paw
print tablecloths, were
laden with platters of dog biscuits and human cookies, all clearly labeled to avoid misunderstanding.
Gingerbread cookies shaped like dog biscuits are a great addition to any dog-themed Christmas party… except when the dog biscuits are also
decorated to look like gingerbread men.
There was a basket of festive holiday bandannas for our canine guests and a bowl of fruit punch for our human guests
, and the centerpiece was a miniature plastic Christmas tree decorated with photographs of all our obedience school graduates for the year. After the party, the proud parents would take their pup’s picture home as a memento.
I held the door open with my hip for Cisco, who looked stylish in his own bright green “Santa’s Helper” bandanna. Naturally, he was stopped short when the two ends of the long cardboard tube he carried in his mouth wouldn’t fit through the door, but
solved the problem by neatly snapping the tube in two with his teeth, picking up both piece
, and prancing through the door with his golden tail waving proudly.
“Hey, look at all this cool dog stuff,” Melanie said as I set the ornament box on the floor. She held up a box of silver paw
print ornaments, and giggled when she found a golden retriever with a pair of wings and a halo. “Is this Cisco?”
“Hardly.” I relieved Cisco of the cardboard tube and stuffed it in the trash. Before I could tu
n around he had snatched a cookie from the tray on the table
, swallowed it, and was sitting innocently by Melanie’s side with nothing but a few multi-colored sugar sprinkles on his muzzle to testify to his crime. It’s pointless to correct a dog for his misbehavior after
he’s consumed the evidence
particularly when there aren’t even any witnesses to the crime—
so all I could
was scowl meaningfully at Cisco and push the cookie tray away from the edge of the table. “Is there one with horns and a pointy tail?”
“Cisco is a good dog,” Melanie corrected me pompously, giving Cisco a scratch behind the ears before stretching to hang the golden retriever angel on the tree. “You just don’t appreciate him. Right, Cisco?”
It was Christmas, and I was in a good mood, so I did not remind Melanie that
this morning alone Cisco had overturned the Christmas tree while dashing to the door to greet her when she arrived, left muddy paw prints on her dad’s cashmere coat, jumped on the kitchen counter and consumed half a bowl of frosting before I could stop him, and hopelessly shredded the brand new roll of wrapping paper that used to be on the cardboard tube he had just finished mangling. Granted, that last one was my fault: I should have been watching him.
“I appreciate him plenty,” I told Melanie. “But I can appreciate him just as much while he’s having a nice time
out in the kennel.”
co gave a little woof
and dug into the ornament box, coming up with a
hand-knitted sheep given to me by my aunt.
“See?” she said. “He’s trying to help. What would you do without him?”
I gently pried
the delicate work of art
out of his mouth, blotted off the saliva and hung it on the tree
next to a matching knitted collie,
well out of his reach.
Cisco dived into the box to see what else he could find and, naturally
turned the box over. He backed up quickly
as all the ornament
around his feet
, looking up at me in such consternation that I had to grin. “Life would definitely be a lot less
admitted, scooping the spilled ornaments back into the box before they were crushed by clumsy paws. “But, you know, if it had been up to me, I never would have gotten him.”
. “Really? You didn’t want Cisco?”
I felt a ridiculous urge to cover Cisco’s ears when she said that, but in typical golden retriever fashion
he had already lost interest in the Christmas tree and was once again eyeing the buffet table. I gave him a warning, “Ank!” and he quickly returned his attention to me, tail waving innocently.
“I didn’t know he was Cisco
then,” I explained to Melanie. “I just didn’t think I was ready for a puppy.”
“Wow,” she said, carefully hanging a row of border collies in tartan plaid bows around the circumference of the tree. “What if you hadn’t gotten Cisco? It would be just like that old black and white movie Dad made me watch the other night.”