Our son, his wife and 3 grandkids had made their usual hurried, visit to our small camper where we now live with our small herd of 5 chihuahua rescues. Our son relocated his family here because there simply were not many employment opportunities back in Arizona. This was where they now sprouted roots and are making a go of it. We call our small plot Pine Country because of the huge pine, which tops the hill behind us. Through the decades the old tree had survived all the storms nature had thrown at it. We moved here to simply be closer to our 3 grandkids. Together we have been making many fond memories here, now living a different type of lifestyle.
The fact is my wife and I can't get around now, for the years and illness had taken their toll on our aging bodies, but our 5 puppies Casper, Cloey, CoCo, CeCe and Ciera now give us a reason to get up in the mornings and a reason to live. It seems like each year we would take in another orphaned chihuahua pup. Our pups and grandkids are now the reason for joy in the morning and contentment at each day's end. As they prepared to leave recently, our daughter asked us " How about giving us one of your dogs?Why won't you at least get rid of one of the older females, how about Cloey, the old white one?" "She is no longer any use to you and she barks a lot. Why don't you cut corners and save money on dog food. Why do you keep these five chihuahuas around here anyways?"
I hesitated, looked down at my well worn boots, scuffed from many years of wear and I replied "Well, I guess I could use a new pair of boots, but no thanks kids. My arm slid around my wife's waist as I gently caressed her back. We are going to keep her simply because of love. Simply pure love." Confused and just a bit irritated, our kids and grandkids wished us grandparents a ho hum Merry Christmas and headed back toward home as darkness fell. We shook our heads in sorrow that it had not been quite as happy of a visit. Tears fell upon our cheeks rolling down slowly.
How can it be that our kids do not understand the peace and love that fill our hearts from these small dogs? Well, nobody noticed the smoldering insulation on the frayed wires our small barn. None of us saw the very first spark ignite. Nobody but our solid white, Cloey the "Old One". In a matter of mere minutes our small barn was ablaze and the hungry flames were licking at the dry hay the pups layer upon. With a cry of terror and fear, I screamed to my wife to call for help as I raced to save our beloved chihuahuas. But the flames were roaring now, the blazing heat and flames drove me back.
I simply sank...breaking down, sobbing to the ground, completely helpless before the flames of fury. My beloved wife back from calling 911, cradled me in her arms, clinging to each other, we both wept at our horrible loss. By the time the fire department finally arrived, only smoldering, glowing ruins were left, my wife and I were simply speechless as we quietly rose from the snow covered ground. We thanked the firefighters as there was simply nothing anybody could have humanly done to save them. I quietly turned toward my wife, resting her head upon my shoulders as my shaking hands tried to dry her tears with a frayed blue bandana. Broken I gently whispered, "Much we have lost, but God has spared us on this eve of Christmas."
We gathered our strength and climbed the hill to the old rugged pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair. We will give glory to God that our lives have been graciously spared and pray for our beloved, precious puppies that have been taken from us. So, I took her by the hand and helped her up the snow covered hill as I brushed aside my own river of tears.
The journey up the hill was very difficult for old bodies like ours in the steep snow. As we carefully stepped over the familiar little knoll at the crest of the hill, we paused for a moment to rest, glancing up the hillside we both fell to their knees in complete amazement at the incredible beauty now before us.
Seemingly, every glorious, most brilliant star in the heavens seemed to be captured up in the glittering, white frosted branches of the beloved pine tree, as it was simply aglow from heavy ice looking like heavenly candles. Poised on it's uppermost branch, a crystal crescent shaped moon glistened just like spun glass. Never had mere mortals created a Christmas tree such as this. We were both simply breathless as I held my dear wife tighter in my comforting arms. All the sudden, I gave a shout of wonder and glorious joy. Amazed and mystified, I took my wife by her hand and gently pulled her forward. There, right beneath this miraculous tree, in resplendent glory, a light mist hovering over and ever glowing light in the darkness was our true Christmas gift. 5 tiny shadows glistening in the night lights.
Bedded down around Cloey, the white "Old One" close to the trunk of the tree, was our entire brood of chihuahuas, safe and sound.
At the first sniff of smoke, Cloey had pushed the door ajar with her tiny paws and had led the other four chihuahuas through it to safety. She had somehow managed to lead them up the hill, stepping cautiously through the snow. The younger dogs must have been frightened and confused. I can imagine my chihuahuas looking back at the crackling, hungry flames, tucking their tiny tails under them and hopped away like rabbits. They all had likely pressed up snugly against the "Old One" as she moved calmly up the snowy hill to safety beneath the giant pine. Then Cloey was laying right in the middle of the chihuahuas and gazed lovingly at our amazed faces. Those she had dearly loved she had not let down.