It’s that strange time of the year again. It’s cold outside and my legs are aching. I’m laying by the big clear wall, hoping that the weak sunlight filtering through the clouds will warm my bones. I roll onto my back and stretch my paws into the air. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a belly rub right now, but no one is home. My mum is at that mysterious place called “work,” and my dad said goodbye to me earlier this morning. He had seemed excited. If he had a tail, he certainly would have wagged it. I moved my head until I could see the tree that wasn’t a tree. It looked real, tall and bristle, but it smelled weird. It was covered in shiny trinkets and things that sparkled. I was also not allowed to pee on it. I learned that my first year. There were shimmery boxes under the not-tree. I had sniffed through them already, and a few of them smelled tasty.
I heard someone at the door and instinctively barked, scrambling to my paws. I ran as fast as my old bones would take me, my nails slipping and skidding on the floor. It was my dad, back from his adventure. He was carrying something. Something that caught my eyes. Something that hit my nose.
Dog. Doggo. Puppy. Friend. Dog!
My tail was so happy it wouldn’t stop wagging!
Doggo. Puppers. Dog. Friend!
I bark and bork and boof, trying to balance on my hind legs to I can sniff it better. It yips back at me, just as excited as I am. Who is this new friend? We are not in a park. Why is it here? Female, judging by its smell. Just as tiny as I was my first year.
“I had to pick her up early,” my peoples was saying. “Merry Christmas, Charlie!”
My dad put the puppers down and it instantly ran to tackle me. I was too big for her to knock over, so she decided to sniff my butt instead. We circled around each other, examining each other, smelling each other. She was a little thing with short, dark fur and floppy ears like mine. She smelled like dirt and other puppies. I sat down because I was getting dizzy and the puppy worked on crawling up my back. Her legs were so short and stumpy, she couldn’t quite make it. I laid down to make it easier on her.
“What’s your name?” I asked as she gnawed on my ear.
“The big thing called me Holly,” she responded, her voice muffled by my ear.
“The big thing? You mean the peoples?”
“It’s called a peoples?”
“That’s what I call them. My name is Charlie.”
“I like you, Charlie.”
“This is called a not-tree,” I showed Holly the shiny thing that claimed to be a tree but really wasn’t.
“I love it!” She yipped, bouncing around the room like a rabbit in the park. She then dove straight into the low-hanging needles and the not-tree teetered precariously.
“No, you can’t do that!” I barked. I grabbed her collar in my mouth and dragged her out of the branches. Fortunately, my dad was in the food room and hadn’t noticed.
“Why not?” Holly asked as I sat her down.
“The peoples don’t like it when we play with the not-tree.”
“Because they’re silly.”
“What’s this?” She asked, her little legs flailing as she ran towards the clear wall. She couldn’t stop fast enough and slid, crashing into the wall. I caught up and sniffed her to make sure she was okay. She jumped to her paws and shook it off.
“I call this the clear wall. You can watch Outside from here.”
“Why can’t we just be Outside?”
“Outside is a special place that we can only go to when the peoples allow it.
“You ask a lot of questions.”
“I asked a lot of questions, too. Someday you will learn to accept things as they are and trust the peoples.”
I continued to show Holly around Home, answering her many, many questions as best I could. I kept waiting for her peoples to come and take her away. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy her company, it’s just that I wanted to meet her peoples. I like peoples. Occasionally we would stop and tussle because Holly likes to play. I would get tired and give her a warning nip, then we would rest for a minute before continuing Holly’s exploration of Home.
Eventually Holly got tired, so I showed her to Bed. Bed was too tall for her to get on, so we went to the not-tree instead. I circled once to get comfortable before slowly laying down. Holly flopped onto her side without any sense of grace. She was asleep in mere moments. I curled around her and rested my nose under her head. Her little paws were twitching as if she were running through a field. Soon, I began to drift off as well. Holly’s peoples never came, but I didn’t mind.
Just before I fell asleep, my dad walked in and saw us.
“I’m glad you love your new sister, Charlie. Happy Christmas!”