“It’s time you went out and explored Jessie. You’ll be safe anywhere in town but don’t wander into the ice fog. If you do you’ll get lost and we might not be able to find you. Don’t worry though. You will be safe in town. The news that you have joined us has pretty well spread through the Elf community after your adventures in the kitchen yesterday. The elves are a jolly group and they had quite a time joking about it at their bonfire last night. The younger elves are looking forward to meeting you. Maybe you could go and play a game of ice hockey with them. They’d like that.”
Molly closed the door to the oven and placed a tray of sugar cookies on the large butcher block table. Every day since Jessie had come to the North Pole Molly had baked the cookies first thing in the morning. She couldn’t figure out where they went because Santa and the dog never ate them at night.
Jessie wagged her tail at the sweet aroma of the sugar cookies. Her tail knocked a spider plant off of the table. She skittered backwards into the corner and lowered her ears.
“It’s okay Jessie. Here have a cookie. Just one now and then out you go. Be sure to be home for lunch. We’re having one of Santa’s favourites – cheese pizza.” Molly opened the door for the dog and Jessie trotted with her head held high and her tongue swinging in front of her face like the pendulum of a clock. She pranced across the little park and down the ice road. As she walked she sniffed the ground. There were so many interesting scents. She sniffed along the edge of the road making sure she didn’t go down any alleys. She knew it was safe but she didn’t want to get lost going home.
As she was walking she heard the sound of small squeaky voices coming from ahead. She wasn’t really familiar with the elves but her ears told her that she was hearing the children of the community playing somewhere ahead. She perked up her ears and followed the sound of the voices. Just down the road she came upon another park. This one was some sort of sports complex. There were ski hills, sledding runs, ice skating patches, and ice hockey pads. Closest to him was the ice hockey pad where the children were playing a game of hockey. They were separated into two teams. One team had red scarves and another had green scarves. The children’s exciting screaming reverberated around the complex as they chased green and red snow pucks across the ice with their hockey sticks.
Jessie sat down on her haunches and watched the game trying to figure out its objective. It did not seem to match the game she had used to watch on TV in Thunder Bay. There was no net and the children all raised their arms in triumph at the oddest times. It took Jessie 15 minutes before she realized that the children were scoring when the ice pucks disintegrated into small pieces.
Jessie moved her legs over and shifted to get a better view of the ice. The movement caused one small Elvin girl to notice Jessie. She excitedly ran over to Jessie and began to talk to her. “Ooohh I know who you are. You’re that Jessie dog that’s living with Chris and his wife. We’ve been waiting to meet you. My name is Chloe. I don’t have any eggnog but maybe you would like to play with us. You can be on my team if you like. “
Jessie stood up and wagged her tail. She walked over to the girl, licked her across the face, and then pranced onto the ice. She moved a little too quickly and slid forwards knocking over two of the children and slamming into the boards. She whimpered slightly, stood up, shook off the snow and then walked more carefully back to her side of the ice.
Fortunately, none of the children were hurt and they seemed to think the accident was funny. There were bright smiles on the faces of the children as they helped each other up.
“Ok Jessie, we’re the green team. The purpose of the game is to get the red team’s puck and break it into pieces. The first team to reach the count of 20 wins,” Chloe said shoving her long red hair into a lime green toque. Her feet seemed to cling to the ice as she ran across it.
Jessie tried to run again but slid. This time the children were prepared and shuffled out of her way. Jessie slid across the ice and into a snow bank at the side of the rink.
Chloe ran across and reached lifted her arms to pet the dog on the head. “Poor Jessie. I forgot you’re from the outer world. You have to get used to the ice here. It’s magic ice created by Chris. It’s used for team ice skating so it has to be slippery. Imagine that your feet are stuck to the ice and then slowly lift your feet straight up and then lower them straight down. If you do this then you’ll learn to cross the ice.”
Jessie stood and shook her head and ears. The children had all gathered in front of her and were calling her name. “Jessie, Jessie. You can do it. Yes you can. Jessie, Jessie”
Jessie tried to trot across the ice but every time she tried she slid. She just couldn’t seem to figure out how to get her footing. She got tired of trying and sat down by a bench at the edge of the rink. She lay down with her head on the ice and her feet under her watching as the children went back to playing. She really wanted to play with Chloe and the kids, but she just couldn’t seem to stand up. After a couple of more rounds the children called a break and they all came over to the bench to sit down.
Jessie was surrounded by children who all wanted to pet or hug her. Jessie wagged her tail and yipped and licked the children’s faces.
Chloe had watched the others playing with Jessie until she called out “Eureka, I know how you’ll be able to play Jessie. We’ll tie our hats on your feet and then you won’t slide so much. Here’s my hat, my mitts and my scarf. I’ll tie them on your feet.”
Chloe tied the articles of clothing on Jessie’s feet and then led the dog back out onto the ice. Jessie took one careful step and then another. It worked. She could prance and walk and run without sliding.
“Come on”, said Chloe. “Let’s play!”
Jessie ran around with the other children trying to catch the ball but the scarf tied to her feet wrapped around her legs and she had to stop every second step to unwrap it. The children played on and Jessie grew more and more frustrated. She tried pulling the scarf off of her legs but it was tied too tightly. Just as she was walking back to the side of the rink with her head held down she spied the ice puck coming her way. Could she get it? Jessie braced her legs and held her mouth open wide down to the ground. One adjustment of her position tangled the scarf around her feet but she didn’t care. She opened her mouth and chomped at the ball. She closed her powerful jaws and the ice ball was destroyed.
A groan went up on Jessie’s team. She’d eaten the green team’s puck not the red team’s puck. The green team had lost. It didn’t matter to Jessie. She was happy. Especially when Chloe came over and asked her if she could come and play tomorrow. Jessie had made a new friend.