Jessie was bored. Terribly bored. The facility that Santa had taken them to was a warehouse of toys for Santa’s distribution in Ontario. At first, Jessie had been intrigued by the robots, plush dogs, and balls. But, Santa had work to do, and had left her to amuse herself for over an hour. Jessie, mindful of the catastrophe in the ribbon room at the North Pole, was determined to be good and not get into trouble. Unfortunately for a young dog there wasn’t much to do that wouldn’t get her in trouble.
Jessie decided the best way to spend her time while waiting for Santa was to sleep. She picked up a stuffed rabbit, trotted over to the lunch room, and climbed on a couch she had seen earlier. Soon, she was sleeping soundly using the rabbit as a pillow.
Santa finished his business later in the afternoon and came searching for the dog. He found her still sleeping on the couch. He gently shook her awake. “Come, on Jessie. You’ve been so good today I’ve arranged a treat for you. I’ve borrowed a car. We’re going on a road trip.”
Jessie stretched her long legs and delicately climbed off of the couch. She picked up the rabbit, and followed Santa out to the car where she climbed into the back seat and immediately went back to sleep using her toy as a prop.
When Jessie awoke, Santa was parked in a huge parking lot. There were hundreds of cars surrounding them. “Come on Jessie. I know you like animals so we’re going to go visit the zoo while were in town. What do you think? Are you ready to go in?”
Jessie barked in agreement and began scratching at the door trying to get out of the car. When Santa let her out he could barely keep up with her. The pair hurried to the front gates where Santa flashed a badge and they were let through the doors.
“I’ve arranged for you to meet Connie. She’s the head of animal care for the Orangutans here. She knows everything you’d ever want to know about the animals, and she’s got a surprise for you.”
Santa opened the door to the Orangutan exhibit, and led the dog through the maze of people. Near the back of the building he walked up to a nondescript door and rang a door bell. They waited for several minutes until a young blond woman opened the door. She had hazel eyes, a weathered face, and was dressed from head to toe in Khaki.
“Santa, it’s nice to see you again. Welcome! This must be Jessie. Welcome, Jessie. I’ve been telling Santa for years that he needed a companion. You’re a very lucky dog to be living with him.“ Connie closed the door and started walking towards the east side of the building.
“Santa wanted you to come and meet a very special member of our Orangutan family. His name is Bilbo and it’s his second birthday today. He’s been sick and is too weak to be with the rest of his Orangutan family right now. Santa thought that maybe you’d like to meet him.”
Jessie barked and whined.
“That means that she’s excited to meet Bilbo,” said Chris.
Connie smiled, and slid a door open. They were in an observation area at the back of the exhibit. Bilbo sat on top of a tire playing with a banana peel. He was swatting it back and forth with a small stick. When he saw Connie come into the room he vocalized a welcome, and jumped up and down.
“Bilbo, this is Jessie. She’s come to say hello and wish you a happy birthday.” Connie said. She gently pushed Jessie forward from between her legs where she had been hiding.
Jessie sniffed the ground as she headed directly for Bilbo. She walked up to the animal and shoved her nose in his face. She licked him on his face and then sat on the back of her legs trying to get Bilbo to play.
Bilbo, reached across and pulled the dog towards her. He held the dog in his arms, and hugged her for several moments before letting her go. Bilbo got up and walked on all fours across the room to a ball. He chewed on it for a moment, and then threw it at Jessie.
Jessie retrieved the ball, and gave it to Bilbo. The pair played in a similar manner for over an hour when Santa called Jessie over to him. “It’s time to go home Jessie. You’ve made Bilbo happy today keeping him company. Say good-bye to your new friend for now. We’ll be back next month and you can visit again.”
Jessie trotted back to Bilbo. Bilbo must have sensed that she was leaving, because he grabbed the dog and hugged her tightly. He then released Jessie and walked back to the corner of the room where a bed was built for him.
Santa and Jessie left the zoo and got ready to go back to the manufacturing facility. “I’m proud of you Jessie. You stayed out of trouble today, and you made a lonely animal happy. That’s what I try to do Jessie. I try to make children happy. Making Bilbo happy was the greatest gift you could have given him, and the greatest gift you could have given me. Now, let’s go home. Molly will be waiting supper”