In a different house a few years later, when I was about 6 my brother Alan and my sister Kathy and I would wake even before the first light on Christmas morning. Apparently it was a habit by then because our parents were used to it and gave up trying to keep us in bed. But this particular Christmas when we got up and started ripping open packages and squealing they called down for us to take it to the basement. Not as bad as it sounds, as the basement was refinished and was a fun place to be.
So, like little soldiers, we grabbed our loot and made our way down to the basement. We argued and played and laughed. But then we heard a sound. It seemed to be coming from the laundry room. It sounded like a baby or something. So we, en masse moved toward the laundry room a little afraid and a little excited. It was dark and none of us were tall enough to reach the light switch so we stood like a little frozen statues and listened.
Why yes indeed, there was a little crying going on and it came from a box in the corner. We looked at each other and squealed like little baby pigs because we all KNEW what that sound was. We seemed to transport to the box across the room and lifted the flap. A puppy! A beautiful gray and black, little German Shepard puppy!
We carried the box to the rec room and oohed and ahed. I’m not sure but I think I managed to get her into my arms before the other kids could even think of it. Her fur was like velvet and she licked my nose. There isn’t anything in the world that a kid loves more than to have a puppy lick their face. She had that wonderful, sweet puppy smell and the tiniest little bark which would send us into a choir of giggles.
Somehow, Dad had managed to sneak down to the basement without our seeing or hearing him. And we might never have noticed him it if weren’t for all those blaring lights off his home movie camera – do you remember those? The kind that could now classify as headlights for a compact car?
We danced and mugged for the camera. Put her down on the floor and got her to chase after us and bark her adorable bark, wag her little tail. I loved this puppy like I never loved anything before. I wanted her to be all mine but I knew she was ours. (I was so bossy even as a little kid – duh!)
“What’s her name, Daddy?” I asked.
“Queeny,” he said without hesitation.
I grinned from ear to ear because I remembered. Our first dog was named Queenie and it seemed so fitting that our new puppy would continue to carry the mantle of that wonderful name.
Of course, Queenie promptly peed and pooped on the tile floor and we had our first Christmas joy of cleaning up after her. Eeeeooooowww, we all said, our noses wrinkling in horror. But who could mind really when you had the best Christmas present ever?
I remember later in the day my dad taking Queenie out in the backyard, immediately beginning the house training – and watching the tiny little fuzzball trot along behind my dad, the snow practically swallowing her up so that all you saw was a bobbing head and waggy tail.
And my heart swelled up because I knew it was Dad who had campaigned for the dog in our behalf – Mom wasn’t so hot on pets at the time, the mess, the work, the feeding, etc. And I knew he probably had to campaign hard and long for her to say yes. I just hope that she felt it was worth it after seeing the joy in her children’s faces and hearts. I know I sure thought so.