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The gift of the magi – a dog’s tale

The following story is based on actual events, retold in the spirit of a beloved Christmas classic—with apologies to O. Henry.

Three entire bowls. Three entire bowls full of dog food. Dog food that was completely untouched by the three hungry hounds looking expectantly through the patio door.

Laura sighed as she looked out. She scrimped and saved and pinched pennies where she could, but still there was no room in the budget for gourmet dog food.

Hal stopped off at the Farmer’s Co-op every Friday on his way home from work to pick up a bag of Happy Hound, along with feed for the livestock. It wasn’t that he skimped. After all, he loved those dogs as much as Laura did, but they ran a farm. They had to be practical. So co-op dog food it was.

Of course, Laura understood. Still, as she looked out at those three adorable, hungry faces and back again at their bowls full of uneaten dog food, she knew she had to do something.

Suddenly, she had an idea! Her eyes shone brightly as she rushed to the refrigerator. There it was, way in the back—the stainless steel can, the one that had belonged to her grandmother.

Just a dab she thought. Just enough to add a little flavor. Gently Laura scooped out a glob of the rich, smokey goodness. The dogs stood at the patio door watching eagerly as she carefully poured the melted bacon grease over their dry food, stirring it gently until every bite was coated.

When she opened the door they dogs rushed in and devoured their delectable treat. Laura laughed out loud as they licked their bowls clean.

Each day for weeks she repeated this loving ritual. When she ran low on bacon grease, Laura simply made more. Hal was delighted when he woke up to the smell of bacon frying—and on a Tuesday, no less! He was pleased a few nights later when they had BLTs for supper. “How clever of Laura!” he thought when she served bacon wrapped asparagus at their church Christmas party.

Hal was still remembering this particular delicacy when, few days before Christmas, he came home early from work, a new bag of dog food tucked under his arm. There in the kitchen stood his bride, spoon in hand, stirring. Oh what culinary delights awaited?

“What in the world are you doing?” he exclaimed! For try as he might, Hal could not figure out why Laura would be cooking with dog food.

“Oh Hal! Guess what I’ve done? I’m getting the dogs to eat their food again. They had stopped, but look! Hal! It’s bacon grease—leftover from cooking. They love it! Wasn’t that a brilliant of me!”

Hal smiled and sat down at the table. He pulled Laura down to his lap and kissed her. “I’ve been brilliant too,” he chuckled, showing her the bag of dog food. “I noticed a few weeks ago that the dogs were getting fat, so I decided to ‘splurge’ on something healthier for them. For weeks now, I’ve been buying diet dog food.”

The magi, as you know, were wise men—wonderfully wise men. And being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones. And here I have told you the story of two dog lovers who were not wise. Even so, they loved their dogs, and they loved each other. And that is a great gift indeed.

-Laura Hudgens

Laura is a freelance writer and a part-time high school teacher. She lives on a buffalo farm in the Ozark Hills with her husband and four kids. Her writing career began when she started a farming blog, but she soon realized that she doesn’t really know anything about farming. So she writes about education, family, faith, and food. Her work has also appeared on The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Parent.co, Grown and Flown, and elsewhere. You can read more here.

Reflections of Erma