The Christmas Ring
Dear friends & family of Young at Heart Pet Rescue,
I’d like to take a moment to thank each one of you for your support and encouragement throughout the year. Because of you, over 435 senior pets have now found their way from death row into loving, forever homes.
As we each celebrate the holidays in our own unique ways, I’d like to once again share with you my favorite Christmas story of all time. It’s about a gift that we here at Young at Heart try to give to senior dogs and cats the whole year through, and it’s what every homeless pet wants – a ring!
Wishing you and your family lots of love, laughter, warm beds, friendly purrs and wagging tails this holiday season.
All the best to you, your family, and your four-legged friends,
Toby and the Christmas Ring, © 2008, by Scott Craven
Toby knew what he wanted for Christmas. The same thing everyone here wanted. A ring. Christmas was close- he could feel it. Ribbons were hung on the walls, and there were special treats with dinner. More people came by to visit, and everybody was in a good mood. Except Emmett.
When Toby shared with Emmett his Christmas wish, Emmett just shook his head. “Toby, you and I don’t get rings,” he said. “Look at us, a couple of losers who were given up on. It’s the youngsters that get rings.” Toby looked at his reflection in his water dish. There was gray on his muzzle and along the tips of his ears. It was true he couldn’t play fetch like he used to. And his legs hurt when he walked too much. But he could still race to the front door when he heard it swing open, wagging his tail like a pup, and go on a slow walk around the block, sniffing here and there. And how he loved to curl up at the foot of the bed, keeping watch during the night. But those were the old days. Now he was here, with Emmett instead of with…
“See, here we go again,” Emmett said as puppies up and down the long hallway yapped and barked, a sign that people had just arrived. Emmett stretched out on the concrete next to his water dish. “Wake me when it’s over. ”
Toby peeked through the gate and saw a little boy and girl walking slowly his way. They stopped in front of almost every kennel, and sometimes they would kneel in front of one and laugh. Toby wished them closer, his tail wagging. He knew if they saw him, then maybe . . . just maybe . . . “Don’t get your hopes up,” said Emmett, his eyes still closed. “You’ll only be disappointed. ”
Toby looked down the hall. The woman in the blue shirt who brought food every day was opening one of the gates. A brown puppy bounded out and into the arms of the girl, who squealed with delight. From her back pocket, the woman in the blue shirt brought out a ring, pale gray, just like all the rings. She slipped it over the puppy’s head.
“Everyone wants cute and adorable,” Emmett said as he heard the door close, knowing what surely had happened. “Years ago we were cute and adorable. No more.”
But it was Christmastime, Toby thought. Things are different at Christmastime. There is happiness. There is cheer. There is hope. Toby remembered when he had a home and a bed and a yard and a person who loved him. But one day, people came and they were crying, and the next day he was here. Now all he wanted was a ring, again. Emmett opened an eye when the barking started again but closed it as he stretched out. Toby pressed his muzzle to the gate and wished again. “It’s Christmastime, ” he said. “A season for miracles.”
He saw the woman in the blue shirt, and she had by the elbow a man walking very slowly down the aisle. They were talking, but Toby couldn’t hear them over the barking. They came closer. And closer. Almost, thought Toby. Almost. Toby squeezed his eyes shut. He wished harder than he had ever wished before.
“Hey, fella, what’s your name?” Toby heard. He opened his eyes. Toby noticed the man had gray around his muzzle and more gray around his ears. He was bent over slightly, and Toby noticed a cane holding the man up. Toby wagged his tail and put his paw on the gate, and when he did, it opened. The woman in the blue shirt reached behind her. There in her hand was a ring. Gray, like all the rest. But the man shook his head. Please, Toby wished. Please.
The man reached behind him and pulled out his own ring. It was red and had green and gold stones that glittered in the light. He slipped it over Toby’s head. Toby was going home. “C’mon, boy,” the man said. “Cute and adorable, you are. Lots of life left in you, fella.”
As Toby placed one paw outside the kennel, he stopped for just a little. Lowered his head for just a little. Glanced behind him for just a little. The man looked at Emmett, and Emmett looked at the man.
“That one, too, if it’s OK,” the man said. “Looks like a set I’d hate to break up. My home may be a bit small, but my heart is big enough.” The woman in the blue shirt took the ring and slipped it over Emmett’s head. And that’s when Toby knew Christmas miracles do happen.
Emmett wagged his tail and spun in a circle and barked. Just as if he were a puppy.
Thank you for helping Young at Heart provide “rings”
to homeless senior dogs and cats all year round.