By HEATHER WALTERS
The twins must have been about 6 or 7, their younger brother about 4, when this memory was made. Serious list making was taking place, letters to Santa were being composed and broad hints were being dropped daily, whenever an adult was within earshot.
Their lists included the usual, lego sets, action figures, play dough – these being the good old days before lists included high priced high tech gadgets like kindles, X boxes and laptops.
Also on the list, and foremost on the daily hint-dropping barrage, was the wish for a sheep, a llama or a pony. Horses we already had, llamas seemed a bit far-fetched, but as it turned out, we were short one dog, having lost an older one months earlier.
While it is generally not recommended that pets be given as gifts at such a busy time as Christmas, it would seem that this year, for our family, the timing couldn’t be better to pull off the best surprise ever – while achieving at the same time Best-Parents-In-The-World status.
My husband and I had already been making inquiries about purchasing our new family member and lo and behold, the breeder we had contacted was expecting a littler of pups to be ready for mid December.
She agreed to hold the pup of our choice for us in her care until Christmas Eve, so we could pull off the Christmas morning surprise.
Come morning, the kids awoke at the crack of dawn, raced into the living room and started to shake and crackle gifts, hoping to wake the grownups.
We were already way ahead of them, however, watching from upstairs. It was only a minute or two until they noticed the crate in the corner next to the tree covered with a blanket and the soft whining sounds that were coming from within. Excitedly they pulled off the cover to reveal – not a sheep, not a llama…
“It’s the dog we asked for from Santa!” shrieked one of the twins.
“It’s not a bulldog” grumbled the other, whose wish apparently had been breed specific.
“Who cares!?” screamed his brother “It’s a dog! It’s a real live dog, for us!”
Finally, younger brother piped up, still unsure about what was happening.
“What’s it doing here?” he squeaked. He brandished a note that was sitting on top of the crate. “I can’t read! Will someone read this for me?”
The note read – “Hello boys. My name is Ginger. Santa thought you would know how to take good care of me and love me.”
“Ginger! Like Gingerbread! She is a perfect Christmas dog!” they all agreed.
Ginger was hugged and cuddled all holiday long. She quickly grew into a loving wonderful family member, a very visible reminder of one of our best Santa surprises ever.
There is a post script to this story though.
As Ginger grew from pup to dog, her ears, which were folded over (tipped) as they were supposed to be for her breed, began to spring up and bounce around.
Eventually, they stood straight up despite our best efforts at trying to tame them. We massaged them, we weighted them, we even pasted them into place – all to no avail.
In fact, every effort we made seemed to strengthen their determination to stand straight up like antlers on a deer.
Eventually we came to accept that our Airedale was “perfect, except for those ears…” a comment that must have made the boys wonder.
The following year at Christmas, the boys, one year older and one year wiser, approached a mall Santa with their new wish list. Once that important business was out of the way, they had one specific question for the kindly old man.
“Santa,” they queried, “The dog you gave us last year, she’s great and we love her, but why are her ears so sticking up?”
(Keep in mind this Santa has no idea what these three boys are talking about.)
Without missing a beat, he replied most convincingly, “Why, boys, I thought she could hear you calling her so much better that way!”
And for the rest of Ginger’s life they remained convinced that she was built with these magnificent super-dog ears, just so she could always hear their voices.