Dog Days of Christmas by Marie Shields

I'm frozen at the kitchen door unable to bring my breath past the electric knot of fear at the back of my throat. Deirdre and her college roommate have arrived with the biggest dog I've ever seen. Now, Deirdre is a big girl, but the dog stands well past her waist and looks like a giant mutant wolf.

Last night my husband informed me that my new step-daughter would be bringing her puppy with her. I'm not overly fond of animals. Actually, I'm underly fond of animals. For six months I've been trying to learn compromise, which means neither of us gets what we want. Adjustment is hard.

My sister arrived yesterday and will also be staying with us this week. My husband likes her about as much as I like dogs. Happy holidays. Deirdre unsnaps the dog's leash. He bounds across the living room, narrowly missing the Christmas tree and crashing into the coffee table. Sis leaps across the room and catches my favorite blown glass vase before it hits the deck.

Apparently, the dog thinks Sis is playing with him. He spins, barks and jumps up. His front paws land
on her chest. She stumbles backward holding the vase like a shield. My husband grabs the dog's collar.
The hair on its back stands up, and it bares its fangs and growls.

Sis reaches for me. I pull her into the doorway and grab the vase. I grip the rim ready to use it as a

"Daaad you scared him." Deidre kneels beside the dog and puts her arms around his neck. He continues a low growl. "There, there, puppykins. Nobody is going to hurt Whiskeypoo.“

She runs her fingers through the dog's thick coat. Whiskeypoo lies down, head on his paws, and whimpers. He closes his eyes and looks as if he might take a snooze.

"Well, old Whiskeypoo seems to have settled down," I say.

"His name is not Whiskeypoo.

It's Whiskey," she says.

"That's a nice name," I smile at Deidre and take a tentative step into the living room.

Sis plops down on the sofa. “What kind of a dog is he?"

"The pound said he's probably a rottweiler / Irish wolfliound mix."

"He's only six months old," the friend volunteers. "Just imagine what he'll be like when he grows up."
Just imagine . . .


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