The jiggly balloon jiggled back and forth in the winter sun as groups of children ran up and through the opening in Santa’s house. . They slid out of the other side and landed in sand boxes full of snow.
Jessie’s ears twitched as she watched the children play. She had always loved children, and had tried earlier to go play with them. But Chris had told her that her claws would damage the balloon so she had sad patiently waiting until the children lost interest in the balloon and came to see Santa..
Exasperated, Jessie plopped down on her haunches. She put her head between her paws and watched the children run to and fro. Behind her, Chris, Molly and the owner talked about the Red Holly Berry Park.
Jessie whined and bobbed her head in time with the children’s voices. The motion,and the cold snow made Jessie sleepy. Soon her eyes involuntarily closed. She started to dream of bones popping into one end of the balloon, and dancing bones popping out of the other end. The bones came closer and just as she was about to gnaw on a meaty selection, she awoke with a snort.
Jessie felt something nudging her tail. Groggily, Jessie opened her eyes and looked behind her. Santa and Molly were smiling at a small, white squirrel that was trying to pull a walnut out from underneath her. Jessie stood up and the squirrel scampered off to a safe distance. It chattered noisily at Jessie and remained just outside of her reach.
Jessie’s ears tilted curiously. She had never seen a white squirrel before and found it odd looking. The dark pink eyes, against the white fur made it look like it was a stuffed baby toy.
Jessie stood up, trotted over to Santa. She sat down in the snow and watched as the squirrel scampered to the nut. It delicately cracked the contents with its teeth and ate the nut meat inside.
When the squirrel finished its meal, Molly threw another nut down by the table directly in front of Jessie’s paws. “Sit still Jessie. Let’s see if we can convince the creature to come closer.”
Jessie whined, but sat as still as she could. Even so, the tip of her tail twitched as she lay in the grass.
Hesitantly, the squirrel approached. It moved forward a few steps, stopped, looked at the dog and then continued its approach. The squirrel repeated this several times before retrieving the nut. The animal sat on its back feet, cracked the nut and watched the dog.
Jessie sat very still. She wasn’t fond of squirrels. In fact, at home she had chased more than one. But Molly was smiling so widely that Jessie didn’t want to interupt her fun.
The squirrel finished its nut and then approached the dog. It carefully walked up to the Jessie and sniffed her feet. It nudged Jessie’s toe with its nose. Then, the squirrel bit down on Jessie’s nail.
Startled, Jessie jumped up and barked at the squirrel. The squirrel scampered backwards and up the tree where it chattered at the dog from above.
Jessie pranced back and forth under the tree barking. The bite had not hurt her physically but she was embarrassed that she had let a rodent bite her. After all, she was ten times the size of the squirrel.
Jessie jumped on her back toes and twirled on her back legs. Her forelegs turned round, and round in the air as she barked at the offending creature.
That’s when Jessie heard them. They were close by and they were laughing and clapping. Jessie dropped down to the ground and looked around. A small group of children had gathered by Santa’s picnic table and were smiling and laughing at her. They had been attracted by her dance under the tree.
In one advance, the group of children rushed to her and began petting, and hugging her. One child offered Jessie a lick of his ice cream cone.
Santa and Molly laughed.
Jessie panted and flopped down to the ground. Maybe the squirrel wasn’t so bad. After all, it had made her some new friends.