The smart dog was Monte. He was also the largest in the Animal Shelter in Old Windsor, and certainly not the best looking. He had lost the sight in one eye. The other eye was sharp enough to notice the volunteer had not closed the gate to the exercise area. He had been in the home for a long time and there was certainly no hope of being adopted this year before Christmas. Rose, on the other hand, was a very pretty cocker spaniel and had inspired lots of interest on the Shelter’s website. No animal would be leaving the shelter that week running up to Christmas Day.
Monte used his massive weight to push open the gate. Rose trotted along behind him. The volunteer had her head bowed over her phone, tapping away her message to a new date. Who could blame a teenager with romantic dreams following a hard day’s slog in kennels, full mostly of pit bulls. The three other dogs in the pound thought this was a follow-the-leader game and that Rose was challenging Monte for some old bone he had picked up. They all made for the gate…..Freddie the terrier cross, little Mac the Scottie and finally Punto, a smallish Dalmatian. It was Punto’s definitive black spots flashing through the gate which caught the volunteer’s eye. She quickly hung up on her Christmas Eve date and gave chase.
Oh! The freedom of running down the hill towards the meadows of Runnymede! Dogs know nothing of the signing of the Magna Carta over eight hundred years ago on this very spot. What does it matter to a one-eyed dog that even King John and his government had to abide by the laws of the land after 1215? Maybe they knew our Queen Elizabeth lived in Windsor Castle, not far from the animal shelter. Yet, she had not abandoned any of her Corgis.
By now the dogs had outrun the poor volunteer. Panting, they paused on the great expanse of open land. The snow was now falling, the sky that wonderful inky blue before it gets really dark. The moon was struggling to light up the heavens. There was just enough light to see Santa high in the sky over the Thames with his sledge and nine reindeer.
This year’s story is also for children. They will have written notes to Father Christmas, visited him in some grotto at a garden centre, made their wishes, and yes, many will have asked him for a new pet. These children can now imagine our FIVE FREEDOM FIGHTERS barking their Christmas wishes to Santa.
Punto, the spotty Dalmatian, last on the run, was first with his wish.
“I was rejected by my family because I was too small to meet Cruff’s Show standards for my breed. I want my next owner to appreciate me for my jolly nature. I don’t want to be a show dog. What about you Freddie?”
“I was shut up all day in a flat. I want to live where there are lots of rats and rabbits.” There was a rustle in the grass near the terrier and a rabbit dived down his burrow. Rabbits make wishes too and it had no intention of being Freddie’s Christmas dinner! “Your turn now, Mac.” The little white dog started to shake. He had lived all his life with a lonely old lady. She had died and he had howled for a long time.
“I want to be with a family of children who will throw a ball for me and share their burgers and sausages. Or I wouldn’t mind living in the castle with the Queen. She might be lonely.” The big shaggy, one eyed dog remained silent. He had wished for many months that someone would adopt him. No human gave him a second look. Rose, the cocker spaniel, was not an unfeeling human and she adored Monte. She was just one of the many dogs bought as a puppy during Covid lockdown for the wrong reasons and now abandoned. Yet she was very good looking.
“My turn next” said she. “I’m going to wish Monte and I are put in one pen with a big sign. THESE DOGS MUST STAY TOGETHER AND NEED LOTS OF EXERCISE”.
Father Christmas called to his leading reindeer “Make a note Pranzer. Another female using her good looks to advantage.” The dogs could hear the sleigh bells now as the reindeers made their smooth landing.
Monte stood up, shook the snow from his shaggy coat, winked his good eye at Rose, and said “I think we had better go back now. That poor volunteer will be in trouble.“ His sense of smell was acute and he had already detected the doggy treats in Santa’s sledge destined for the animal shelter. The gate was still open…..and the website very busy with 2022 viewing requests by prospective adopters.
In the spirit of the Magna Carta, no priority was given to the Lady in Waiting to Her Majesty.