Part 2 of my 12 Days of Christmas (and other holiday stories) series! This Prompt was from Tanner Childs: Write about a puppy finding a home for Xmas.
Thanks for the prompt, I hope you enjoy!
The incessant barking had echoed from the back seat for so long, Mary wondered if she would even remember what silence sounded like when she heard it… Correction, if she ever heard it.
“Tell me again why we agreed to get Hannah a puppy for Christmas,” James shouted as he finally turned the corner of the entrance to their neighborhood.
Mary groaned and tightened her earmuffs. “I will when you remind me why we had to pick it up three days before the actual holiday! How in the world are we supposed to keep it a secret until Christmas? Are we going to send her to Sarah’s for a sleepover three days in a row?”
“We don’t!” James chuckled. “At least, not if it keeps barking like this! Why did you have to pick the Yorkie, Mer?”
“She wasn’t nearly this talkative in the shelter!” Mary shifted in her seat and tried to press the earmuffs even tighter around her head, but they refused to budge. “Maybe just the car; she’ll be better when we get get home and she has room to run.”
James hummed. “God, I hope so. It’s a good thing we have a big backyard or we’d really be in for it!” He pulled into the driveway and hit the garage door opener. He inched their Range Rover in and switched into neutral as the van coasted into position. He turned the key and yanked it out of the ignition, slumping against the back of the driver’s seat. “Phew; we’re home!”
“Now let’s get Lucy out of that damn crate!” Mary swung the car door open and hurried to unlatched the trunk.
Their new house guest turned in endless circles, yipping and growling at the bars of her confinement. Upon seeing her new owner, she stilled and cocked her head to the side and let out a small, questioning whimper.
Oh, good. Maybe it was just the car she didn’t like after all. Mary reached forward to pick up the crate.
The moment her hand hovered over the bars, Lucy sprung up on her hind legs and launched herself toward Mary’s outstretched hand, rattling the bars of the cage the shelter had sent her with as she attempted to nuzzle her nose into the woman’s palm. Her bright eyes sparkled with energy and her tail waggled at warp speed. She pranced left and right on her back paws, and Mary couldn’t help the silly grin that spread across her face.
“Well, you’re a playful little thing, aren’t you?” She picked up the carrier and walked around toward the yard, where James was jimmying with the special, dog-proof lock they’d purchased for the occasion.
“Just making sure it’s nice and tight,” He pushed himself up from where he’d been squatting on the balls of his feet in front of the gate that fenced off their backyard, brushing the remnants of snow from his pants.
“James, look at her!” Mary held the cage toward her husband. Lucy yapped and wiggled even harder at the sight of her new “Daddy.”
James let out a hearty laugh and stepped closer to the cage, bending down so he was nose to nose with the small canine.
“Well, what have we here?” James reached through the bars and scratched the patch of fur just between Lucy’s ears. She rumbled happily and pushed against his hand. “Mer, I think we might have another dancer in the family.” He undid the latch on her cage and let the door swing open.
Lucy bounded down into the snow, slipping on a patch of slush and somersaulting forward.
Mary gasped and hid her snicker behind her hand.
James smirked and crossed his arms, watching as the little pup blinked up at him with kind, black eyes before scrambling to her feet and shaking the stray flurries from her glistening black and tan fur coat. She trotted back to Mary’s side and stood on her back paws again, bouncing on her toes and barking excitedly until Mary finally scooped her up into her arms.
“And she’s a little ham too,” Mary laughed.
“Just like our Hannah,” James agreed as he came over and rubbed the little dog under her chin. “I have a feeling they’re going to be fast friends.”
Christmas morning, 12-year-old Hannah crept down the stairs just as the sun began to peek through the clouds. The clock by her bedside table only read 6:32 by the time she shimmied out from beneath her warm covers and slid into her favorite blue slippers. She had tried her hardest to fall back asleep when she’s first woken up at 4:30, but only managed to doze off a handful of times, too distracted by the visions of puppies dancing in her head.
Her parents had been acting strange since Ms. Summers had dropped her back at home after her sleepover with Sarah. Usually the three of them, her parents and Sarah’s mom, would sit in the kitchen for hours, talking and laughing over cups of coffee or glasses of wine.
But not this time.
The moment Hannah stepped over the threshold, they herded her upstairs to unpack her overnight bag before whisking Ms. Summers toward the kitchen and talking in hushed tones for the better part of the next hour. When Hannah wandered back into the kitchen for a snack sometime later–the spicy aroma of fresh-baked gingerbread was impossible to resist- all three of them had stopped talking and pulled out their phones, failing miserably at their attempt to hide the fact that whatever they were talking about had to do with her.
A shiver of excitement skipped up Hannah’s spine as she ventured back toward the stairs and crouched by the bannister. She did her utmost to concentrate on the intoxicating taste of her favorite Christmas treat. Don’t get your hopes up. You know Dad said he hates dogs. Even so, her spirits soared when, about ten minutes later, her parents led Mrs. Summers to the door. She held what Hannah could only assume was a cage in her right hand. A large white blanket forbade the young girl from seeing inside, but she swore she heard a small but distinctive yip echo through the entry way just as Ms. Summers latched the front door behind her.
Hannah’s slippers shuffled over the carpet as she inched closer to the tree. She surveyed the piles of presents stacked beneath it’s branches, looking for anything that might resemble whatever it was that her best friend’s mother had taken out to her car a few days prior. She circled the perimeter of the pine, taking care to avoid the needles that covered the tree’s skirt. The skip in her step tapered however, when after her fourth go-around, nothing jumped out at her.
Her shoulders drooped as she sighed and turned away from the rest of the gifts. “Oh, well, there’s always next year.”
Halfway up the stairs, the smallest whimper caught her attention. Her gaze snapped back toward the tree. She held her breath and listened a little longer.
Something rattled near the window sill, and another, louder bark resounded in her ears.
Hannah sprinted back down the stairs and raced toward the back of the tree, toppling stacks of gifts as she barreled toward the sound. Sure enough, nestled in the far left corner, behind the very last stack of presents was the same cage she had seen Ms. Summer’s take two days prior. Hannah gasped and barely contained her squeal of excitement as she tore off the white covering to reveal a tiny whirlwind of black and tan fur.
“A puppy!” She dropped to the ground as a bright grin split her face.She fumbled to undo the lock at the edge of the cage, and the dog pressed it’s nose to the hinges in an attempt to help.
When the door finally swung open, Lucy darted out of the cage and onto Hannah’s lap, knocking her backwards and into yet another stack of unopened gifts.
Hannah shrieked with laughter as as the puppy’s front paws pinned her down by the shoulders and her small tongue darted out to leave little, sandpaper kisses all over her cheeks. “Shhh! Haha… Stop!” she yelped. “You’re going to wake Mom and Dad.”
Mary shook her head from where they watched, leaning against the doorway to the kitchen. She nudged her husband and offered a knowing smirk upon noticing the adoring glint in his eye as he watched his daughter bond with their new family member. “And you said you didn’t want a dog.”