“Rufus Sniffs Out Christmas”

Rufus the dog felt like it should be here already – and yet things were not adding up.

The cold, dark winter had come and gone.

The spring had sprung and the Easter Bunny had bounced away for another year.

The heat had made him pant away the long, lazy days of summer.

The autumn winds had blown away the leaves of red and orange and gold.

And now it was cold again. Winter was back. But where was Christmas?

Rufus barked an unhappy bark.

It was Christmas last year when Rufus was cured of a very bad case of reindeer envy.

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Rufus had been sure he wanted to be like Rudolph and have antlers and hooves and a bright red nose and be able to fly.

But when his Christmas wish came true, Rufus found reindeer life did not suit him at all…especially flying.

Clever Father Christmas had shown him his dog’s life with Mr. and Mrs. Owner was really rather special. Rufus realised he liked being a dog. 

There was just one problem. Rufus swapped reindeer envy for festive frenzy.

Rufus could not get enough of Christmas.

It was full of twinkly lights, tasty treats and piles of presents.

Meeting Father Christmas, the reindeer and the elves had made it even clearer to him. Rufus loved Christmas.

‘Why could it not be Christmas every day?’, thought Rufus.

‘Why did Christmas have to go by so fast?

‘Why did Christmas disappear for so long?’

Rufus went in search of answers. 

Rufus perched Mr. Owner’s reading glasses onto his shiny black nose and put that very same nose into the pages of a book.

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It was a big blue book. It looked like an important book.

Many times Mr. Owner had pulled this book from the shelf, looked inside it and made a noise like “aaah”. Mr. Owner then, usually, smiled and scribbled something in a newspaper. It was a curious habit.

Rufus wanted that happy look.

Rufus looked inside the book – but nothing happened. He expected something would jump out of the book and into his brain and would instantly know where Christmas was hiding.

Rufus did not understand that to make the most of books, you have to be able to read. 

Rufus could do many things. He could beg for treats very well indeed. He could run for sticks and was really very fast for a small dog. He could even jump twice his height and that is very hard to do.

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But Rufus, like most dogs, could not read.

Rufus stared through the glasses, expecting an “aaah” moment – but nothing happened. He had to find another way to find Christmas.

Rufus wandered through the park with Mrs. Owner, keeping her close on his lead. Perhaps he might find Christmas here.

Rufus looked around the park benches. Rufus looked behind trees. Rufus looked inside the bushes. Rufus even looked under the bandstand. But Christmas was nowhere to be found.

Not a bauble or piece of tinsel in sight.

Rufus walked down the street late at night with Mr. Owner. Perhaps he might find Christmas here.

Rufus looked around garden walls. Rufus looked behind lampposts. Rufus looked inside grids. Rufus even looked under the parked cars. But Christmas was nowhere to be found.

Not a bauble or a piece of tinsel in sight.

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He had to find another way.

As Rufus lay in his cosy bed, thinking about his adventure last year to the North Pole, he thought: ‘What would clever Father Christmas do?’

And then it came to him. Father Christmas told him that wanting to be something you are not is never wise. He told Rufus that trying to become a reindeer was not the thing any good dog should do. 

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“Be a dog and do it well,” Father Christmas, hands on hips, had said as Rufus left the North Pole. 

‘Be a dog and do it well’, thought Rufus. ‘Be a dog and do it well.’

Suddenly, Rufus had it: ‘What do dogs do well? They sniff things out, that’s what.’

Rufus could always sniff out where he had buried his bones.

Rufus could always sniff out when Mrs. Owner had biscuits in her shopping bag.

Rufus could always sniff out when Mr. Owner had dropped some Sunday lunch under the table.

Yes – Rufus would sniff out Christmas.

The next morning, Rufus was in the garden. He sniffed the air. He sniffed the ground.

And then… 

What was this?

Could it really be a whiff of Christmas?

Rufus sniffed his way to a tree lying on the ground, its branches tied up with string. It had the smell of Christmas.

Rufus barked a happy bark.

Inside the house, Rufus sniffed the air. Mrs. Owner was taking a tray of pies from the oven. It had the smell of Christmas.

Rufus barked a happy bark.

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Rufus sniffed the air again. Mr. Owner was taking a steaming brew from the hob. It was bubbling up scents of orange and spice. It had the smell of Christmas.

Rufus barked a happy bark.

All the sniffing, all the searching, made Rufus rather sleepy so he curled up for a nap by the fire.

Rufus dreamt of Father Christmas. He dreamt of elves. He dreamt of reindeer. His legs twitched as he dreamt of flying. He did not like flying – and so woke with a start.

The smell of Christmas was stronger than ever. Was he still dreaming?

Rufus lifted his head to see Mrs. Owner sipping from a steaming mug and Mr. Owner biting into a powdery pie. They were standing in front of a lush, green tree – full of baubles and tinsel and lights.

“This mulled wine is your best yet,” said Mrs. Owner.

“These mince pies are as good as always, dear,” said Mr. Owner.

“And the tree…” they said together. “How wonderful!”

Rufus barked a happy bark. He felt proud that after such a long wait he could bring such joy to his family. They could surely not have done it without him.

The delighted dog sat beside them and thought: ‘Well done Rufus – you just sniffed out Christmas.’

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Copyright Philip Jones 2015