Guide Dogs' Night Before Christmas
Twas the night before Christmas and the kennels were still, with most dogs asleep having eaten their fill.
The Labs were sprawled out, quite snug in their beds, while visions of NylaBones danced in their heads.
The Goldens and Shepherds curled up on the floor – some twitched in their sleep, some started to snore.
The dog food was stacked in the feed room with care, in hopes that a trainer may soon would be there.
While up near the window a kennel cat lay, surveying the lawn at the end of his day.
Tonight would be different, that little cat knew. Something special would happen, it had to be true.
For today as the workers departed to roam, they’d wished Merry Christmas before going home.
The dogs noticed it too in this past week of walks – the trainers so happy and eager to talk.
In the mall where they worked through the mazes of stores, were lights, decorations, distractions galore!
Most dogs pranced along without worry or fear, but some barked at the sleigh and the fake looking deer.
The cat, almost asleep when he first heard the sound, a whoosh through the air and a jingle around.
Like a dog’s collar makes when the animal shook, but the sound kept on growing. He’d better go look.
From up on the ceiling there came a faint thunk, as the kennel cat climbed on a high pile of junk.
When before he’d known people to work on the roof, they’d come down the trap door to a chorus of woof!
But the dogs still were quiet, all sleeping so sound, as this man dressed in red made his way right on down.
He patted the cat, e’r he climbed past his spot, then made his way to a hot coffee pot.
A shepherd sat up, not fully awake, and a Golden retriever arose with a shake!
Soon everyone sprang to their paws with loud noise. In spite of the din, the old elf kept his poise.
The pot was plum full of his favorite brew, so he pulled up a chair and took in the view.
The dogs all around him, so carefully bred. He knew well their jobs, the blind people they led.
Some had stopped barking and looked at him now, while others rejoiced in their deafening howl.
Laying a finger in front of his lips, the man bade them cease their excitable yips.
“You all may not know me, but I’m Santa Claus.”
He then stopped and smiled and took a short pause, while he filled up his mug with hot liquid and cream. “I’ve long wanted to stop here. It’s been one of my dreams.”
The cat had climbed down to explore Santa’s sack. “Yes, little kitty, that’s an empty pack.”
Santa smiled as he drank and looked at those eyes, deep brown ones and gold ones held wide in surprise.
Some of these dogs, he’d seen just last year, in their pup homes, full of holiday cheer.
He’d seen the effects of a pup on the tree, but now they were here at the school, just waiting to be.
“I didn’t bring presents or bones just to chew. I’ll say something better, what you’re going to do.
You’ll all work real hard and the trainers will share both praise and correction, gentle and fair.
You’ll go lots of places and face scary things. You’ll ride buses and subways and hear fire sirens ring.
Cars will drive at you but you will stand strong, not moving toward danger, not moving toward wrong.
And then just when you think that this trainer’s the best, the kindest, and funnest person, toss away all the rest, that trainer will begin to ignore you and give you away, handing your leash over despite your dismay.
Now the one who will pet you and feed you will be, a blind person, someone who can’t see. This man or this woman may see just a tad, But their view’s missing parts or the focus is bad.
So you, well trained dogs, will act as their eyes. You will work as a team and discover the size – of this great world we live in, because you will go, a million new places with this person, you know.”
Santa sipped at his coffee and looked over the brood, Knowing what he’d say next might sound kind of rude.
“Not all will go on to become canine guides. But your time won’t be wasted. You won’t be cast aside.
Some will be drug dogs and some will find bombs. Some will be pets in a home with a dad and a mom.
All these things are important. People wait on long lists, to receive such good dogs as you, the school folks insist.”
The last drop of coffee had gone into his cup. As Santa turned, smiling broadly at each wide eyed pup.
“The best gift of all is to give something back. That’s why there’s nothing for any of you inside my pack.”
Draining his mug, Santa went to each pen, and petted and scratched each dog again and again.
“Now next year and many more years after that, you all will give gifts wherever you’re at.
You might help catch a crook or discover some loot, or bring some joy to a tired old man in a funny red suit.
Your master will love you and treat you with care. In return, your training and trust will always be there.”
After the last dog had been petted and soothed, Santa put away the coffee pot and made ready to move.
Up the ladder he rose to the door high above, with a smile and a wave as he slipped on his gloves.
And all ears were pricked as he flew out of sight. “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”