Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Visions of Rawhide

I know it's after Christmas, but this story takes place during and after Christmas, so I thought it was appropriate. Let me know what you think!

Instead of dreaming about sugarplums and snowflakes, visions of a rawhide bones danced in his head. His leg twitched, his eye shed a tear and drool pooled under his mouth. All he wanted for Christmas was a nice, juicy bone. It didn’t have to be a big bone, one the size of a small deer would do. Just something he could really sink his teeth into, really chew on. Unfortunately, he was as likely to get it as it was to snow in South Texas. Much to his dismay, Rex the dog lived with a family of the worst of all types of humans—vegetarians.

They weren’t bad people, necessarily. The Sandsons were always very kind to him, and they fed him all organic soy dog food which kept his belly full. It tasted like cardboard, but it got the job done. They had even bought him a organic cotton cushion to sleep on and a few natural fiber toys. While they were nice enough people, they simply weren’t Rex’s kind of people. Rex needed to live with a trucker who ate chili and greasy hamburgers every night and gave him the left overs. The Sandsons spent their nights doing yoga and mediation.

One night, Rex laid on the floor chewing on a hemp rug. “If it doesn’t taste like cardboard, it tastes like paste,” he thought to himself. “I do wish one of these teenagers would rebel and eat a cheeseburger or something. I could even deal with some chicken nuggets or French fries.” He sighed as he continued to eat the rug. The Sandson children came running in. Since the parents didn’t believe in birth control (it wasn’t natural), there were children from 16 years old to 3 years old. Waving white sheets of paper, the children shoved the paper into hemp stockings.

“I wrote my letter to Santa!” one of the children shrieked. “I bet I’ll get exactly what I want—a tofu making machine!” an older boy squealed. “Now, now,” Mrs. Sandson chastised. “Santa does his best to get you what you want, but sometimes Santa has to do what’s best for you.”

“No, he doesn’t,” one of the children argued. “He brings you exactly what you want if you’re nice. That’s why he makes his list and checks it twice.”

“He brings you exactly what you want?” Rex thought to himself. “That’s it! I’ll ask Santa for a bone!” Pleased with himself, he trotted to his bowl to lap up some distilled water. Then, he stopped suddenly. “Wait a minute,” he thought aloud. “How do dogs write letters to Santa? Where do we send them to?” In a panic, he ran to look at the living room mantle. “I don’t have a stocking!” he panted, his warm brown eyes looking alarmed. “How am I going to send the letter?” In a sheer frenzy, he ran out the doggie door and down the street. Felix will know, he thought as he ran down the sidewalk. Felix has to know.

When he got to Felix’s yard, Felix was laying in the sun spread-eagle and half asleep. He lazily raised his head as Rex trotted up and gave him a lazy head nod. After a few seconds, he sat up and yawned.

. “So tell me what you need,” Felix said. “Tell me what’s on your mind.”

“I need to write a letter to Santa Claus,” Rex said, looking at Felix gravely. Instead of laughing, Felix simply raised an eyebrow. “Why?” he asked.

“Because I need to ask him to bring me a bone for Christmas,” Rex said. Felix raised the other eyebrow. “Why do you need to ask Santa for that? Why can’t you just---oh, that’s right,” he said, finishing his thought before Rex could answer. “You live with vegetarians. They won’t buy you a bone.”

“Not unless it’s made out of soy or tofu or some crap like that,” Rex sighed. “It’s utterly dreadful. It’s torture, really.”

Felix stretched out his front legs and sat down, tail wagging. “Here’s what you need to do,” he said. “You need to find an old stick and chew a message. Then put the stick on the top of your doghouse. By morning, it’ll have been picked up and you’ll have your answer.”

“How do you chew a message?” Rex asked. “I’ve never heard of that.”

“You know when you’re chewing on something and another dog walks up and you growl for him to go away?” Felix asked. “Well, when you growl, it leaves tiny impressions in the wood. So when another dog puts the stick in his mouth, he can feel all those impressions. If he knows how to read a message, he knows exactly what the other dog said.”

“Wow!” Rex said. “How do you know about it?”

“I know everything,” said Felix loftily, examining his front paw nonchalantly.

“How’s Santa going to read that?” Rex asked, looking confused. “He’s not going to stick a piece of chewed wood in his mouth. And I’m sure the reindeer or elves couldn’t figure it out.”

Felix sighed. “Santa has a whole staff of animals that takes care of other animals needs at Christmas,” he said. “You didn’t think humans just celebrated it did you?”

“Well, yea, that’s what I thought,” said Rex bashfully. Felix shook his head and sighed heavily, muttering, “You’ve been living with those vegetarians for too long.”

“Anyway,” he continued. “Cats have a head cat, fish have a head fish and dogs have a head dog. So whenever a dog writes to Santa, his head dog reads the sticks and tells Santa what each dog once. Then while Santa is at their people’s house, he drops off the present for the pets as well.”

“What about wild animals who don’t have people?” Rex asked. “What do they do?”

“Father Christmas takes care of them,” Felix said. “He takes care of the wild animals, Santa takes care of the city creatures.”

“Santa isn’t Father Christmas?” Rex asked, completely confused.

“No,” Felix said. “Santa is a saint, while Father Christmas is a spirit from nature. Two different people. Anyway, just write a message in a stick. I have a new one behind my house you can use.”

Rex was elated. “Wow!” he shouted, spinning circles. “This makes me so happy! Thank you so much Felix! I know I’ll get a bone now!”

Felix smiled and laid back into the grass. “Anytime,” he said, leaning back in the warm grass. Rex took that as his sign to leave and picked up his stick and left.

When he got back to his doghouse, Rex happily chewed and growled his message to Santa on his stick. That night, he placed the stick on top of his doghouse and went to sleep. In the morning, he bounded out excitedly. The stick was gone! It was gone! Now all he had to do was wait a few days until Christmas.

When Christmas morning finally came, Rex bounded excitedly into the house through his doggie door. He turned circles in front of the tree and waited impatiently for the children to barrel down the stairs. The seven children flew down the banister and immediately started ripping their cloth wrappings off their presents. The cloth would later be used to make quilts and gloves, and the mother began picking it up and putting it in a straw basket. Impatiently, Rex thumped his tail against the ground until it was time for stockings. His stocking was hanging like a beacon of glory from the wooden mantle. One of the children brought it down and opened it.

“Oh look Rex!” he exclaimed joyfully. “Santa brought you a bone!”

The bone was the size of a small deer leg and rawhide. It was the most beautiful thing Rex had ever seen in his life. Tears sprung to his eyes. He could almost feel his teeth around it, the bone and sinew crunching inside his mouth. He was so happy he thought he would burst, his tail wiggling so quickly it might fly off.

As the child unwrapped the bone and handed it to Rex, no sooner had he put his jaws around the enormous bone then did Mrs. Sandson swoop it up. Rex growled and clung to the bone, but she jerked it out of his mouth.

“Richard,” she chided in an icy tone, “Did you buy this for Rex?”

“No, honey, Santa brought it, remember?” Richard said, trying to keep his tone light in front of the children. “Santa brought Rex a bone! How nice!”

“Richard, this is not vegan friendly,” the mother snapped. “This does not fit into our lifestyle. We can’t have it in the house. Where’s the soy dog treats I asked you to put in his stocking?”

Richard cleared his throat and smiled unconvincingly at his children. “Honey, I didn’t buy the bone,” he said in careful, measured words. “Santa brought the bone for Rex when he came last night.”

Unfortunately, the damage was done. The younger children stared up at their mother and father tearfully.

To be continued.....