Oliver trotted out the door and down the stairs of the deck into the back yard. He looked straight ahead to the neighbors’ to see if King was also outside. The little terrier couldn’t see the Great Dane, though, and breathed a sigh of relief. King was apparently napping in the garage.
Their meeting was inevitable before winter was over, of course, but every hour it could be postponed was a good one. Oliver looked over his shoulder at the bright red sweater he wore. He could see the row of white snowflakes down the side and knew that his name was stitched down the back in letters of green. Sure it was warm, but King would tease Oliver terribly, and Oliver was already a little sensitive about his size. The sweater would just give the massive dog a massive laugh for the rest of the season.
Oliver sniffed around his yard and found a good spot to answer nature’s call. That finished, he walked around in the two inches of snow from Christmas Eve. It really was more pleasant to be out with the sweater. Booties would have helped, too, but the sweater would be enough for King to howl about.
After crossing his own tracks several times, Oliver thought about going back inside. There was no reason to linger and risk being seen by King.
As he turned his back on King’s yard, he heard an explosion. Oliver whipped around, looking for the source. He heard it again and recognized it as a sneeze.
He raced over to the fence between his yard and King’s. A third sneeze sounded, and it seemed to come from the other side of the tool shed. Oliver ran to the far end of his yard to get a better view.
He saw King sitting in the shade of the shed. He was wearing a Santa hat.
The dogs regarded each other for a moment.
“Merry Christmas, King.”
“Merry Christmas, Oliver.” As hiding was of no use, King lumbered into the sunshine. Oliver closed the distance and claimed the advantage.
“Like my sweater?”
“It’s … very nice.”
Oliver turned around. “It’s got snowflakes and my name is on the back.”
“Uh-huh. Your mom make that for you?”
“Sure did. It’s nice and warm.”
“Looks like it.”
“I’m so glad you think it’s nice,” Oliver beamed, looking again at King’s hat.
“Oh, yeah. My mom’s Aunt Emma is here. She made this for me.”
“I see it’s got a strap to keep it on. Oh, and your name is on it, like my sweater.”
“Well, it’s very sharp, King. I’m sure it’s keeping your ears nice and toasty.”
“Uh-huh. I think I’ll go back in the garage for a while. See if there are any more dinner scraps.”
“Sounds good. I’ll go in for now, too. See you later, King.”
Oliver watched as King hung his head and went through the dog door. Then Oliver bounded across the yard in bunny hops. A warm sweater and a Christmas miracle: what more could a dog want?