Lots of Laughs

A fam­ily’s mis­chievous pup made it hard to say thanks.


Polly, my step­mom, sug­gested the sweet­est name: Mercy. We soon learned it was just what this new boxer pup would need. My par­ents’ ram­bunc­tious dog would bolt out of bed and go-go-go all day long. So when they brought home a Christ­mas tree, they ex­pected chaos. To their as­ton­ish­ment, Mercy didn’t seem to care. She paid zero at­ten­tion to the tree sud­denly grow­ing in her liv­ing room. Nor did she re­act to the fancy presents un­der it, in­clud­ing a wrapped box of Milk-Bones.

Dad and Polly were wary; they’d never had a dog that didn’t force them to move ev­ery­thing to higher ground, as if they were ex­pect­ing a flood. But Mercy seemed obliv­i­ous.

A few days be­fore Christ­mas, Polly awoke early, as usual. She passed the dimly lit liv­ing room. Then sud­denly she stopped cold. Glanc­ing back into the room, she saw that ev­ery last present was gone.

Only the tree was still there.

Had they been robbed? Why didn’t Mercy bark? Mercy! Where was she? Had the bur­glars taken her? Her thoughts fran­tic, Polly no­ticed a scrap of rib­bon on the floor. Then a bit of torn wrap­ping pa­per a few feet away. Some glit­ter be­yond that. The clues all made a trail lead­ing to­ward the back door.

Polly flipped the switch, bathing the back­yard in light. The per­pe­tra­tor’s head lifted and froze. Alarm and guilt made her eyes wide. Oh, yes, it was Mercy.

She lay un­der her fa­vorite tree in a fluffy nest of shred­ded wrap­ping pa­per, chewed-up boxes and curl­ing bits of rib­bon. Presents, pawed from their pack­ages, were strewn among tat­tered bows. Beau­ti­fully wrapped boxes had gap­ing holes. Frag­ments of tis­sue pa­per mixed with the last re­main­ing ev­i­dence of gifts.

Clearly Mercy’s self-con­trol had failed. She’d silently car­ried one pack­age af­ter an­other out the doggy door so she could pil­lage in pri­vate.

Anything ed­i­ble was gone, in­clud­ing cook­ies, fancy breads, cho­co­lates, candy canes and 4 pounds of Milk-Bones. Na­ture took pity on Mercy, and she sur­vived her midnight snack. My par­ents were so grate­ful, they laughed off the ru­ined presents.

Only one prob­lem re­mained. With all the gift tags de­stroyed, how could they send out thank-you cards?

Mercy pre­sented the prob­lem, so Mercy pro­vided the an­swer. A few days later, Polly re­turned to her easy chair to find Mercy guiltily lick­ing a plate where a donut had just been.

Polly snapped a pic­ture of the shame­faced pooch and used it to make thank-you notes. The cap­tion read, “Thank you for the ??” In­side, the whole story was ex­plained. We all had to laugh. And ev­ery­one shared the sweet re­minder that amid all the gift­giv­ing, it’s re­ally a sea­son for Mercy.

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