Christmas Morning in the Pasture
When our beloved dog disappeared on Christmas Eve, my husband and I never thought Jackson would be saved by spectacular angels.
Temperatures dropped, but no matter. Our house was warm as toast. I put finishing touches on the holiday decorations. Jackson, our Yorkshire terrier, watched me hang my stocking, then Bill’s. He cocked his head.
“Do you think I’d forget you on Christmas Eve?” I pulled out the plaid stocking with Jackson embroidered at the top and hung it next to ours. Jackson wagged his tail. He might not have been able to read his name, but after 15 years he knew his stocking.
I snaked some garland into the hallway. A pile of Christmas cards lay on the side table by the door. Several of them were addressed to Jackson. “To one of my favorite customers,” wrote Jan from the grooming salon. “Merry Christmas!” He also got cards from all of our grandchildren.
Anybody who found it silly for a dog to get this much attention didn’t know Jackson. That dog had personality. When I took him for walks, neighbors bent down to talk to him. “You look very handsome in your yellow slicker,” a friend told Jackson one rainy day. Jackson ran around in a circle, showing off. Even four-legged neighbors weren’t immune to his charms. Our backyard bordered a pasture where horses grazed. They came right up to the wire fence and put their massive heads down low. Jackson wasn’t intimidated. He ran over to say hello, barking, jumping, begging to be noticed.
I arranged Jackson’s Christmas cards so Bill would see them when he got home from work. Taking care of our little dog was a big focus. But we couldn’t protect Jackson from everything. He was getting older. His eyesight was almost gone. He could barely hear. Sometimes he got confused outside and couldn’t find his way back to the house. What if something happened when Bill and I weren’t home? Who would protect him then?
Jackson barked and hurried into the living room. “You always know the time. Don’t you, boy?” I laughed. Right on schedule Jackson climbed up on the couch and watched for Bill. “Somebody got a lot of cards,” I sang when he came in, “and it wasn’t you or me.” Bill chuckled at each one.
We had a quiet evening, just the three of us. After dinner, Bill and Jackson played fetch with a crocheted jingle ball. We turned in early. “Santa won’t come till you’re fast asleep,” I teased Jackson. Bill and I slipped underneath the covers. Jackson curled up at our feet with his stuffed lamb. “Night, Jackson,” I said before I drifted off.
I awoke some time later, hearing a bark in the darkness. “Jackson has to go out,” I mumbled. I rolled over to look at the clock: 3:00 A.M. “Be right back,” Bill said. I must have dozed off. This time Bill was shaking me. “What is it?”
My eyes darted to Jackson’s usual spot on the bed. Only his stuffed lamb was there.