Finding the Right Homes for Retired Hounds in the Delaware, Maryland, D.C., Virginia Area ...and Beyond!
Dog Diaries

The Case of the Stranger's Surprise

by Ron Powell

~~My name is Prince Frecklebum, Greyhound Detective. I wasn't always a detective. I was a racer once, before I retired. My track name was Occam's Razor of Lightspeed Doom. You can call me Prince. Most of the humans around these parts do.

That's my cousin, Lady Sparklefairy. We just call her Lady, though. She's a good egg, really and this was her first Greyhound Gift Day. It all started a few days ago...

"Prince, what's with all the lights and fancy things Mom and Dad are putting up?"

"well, the humans put them up every year after Super Awesome Leftover Day. It means that Greyhound Gift Day is almost here."

"Greyhound Gift Day?" She was looking at me with the funny look she gets whenever I teach her something new.

"You know about the guy all dressed up in red and white, right?"

"Sure. Sometimes you'd see him around the track right before some of the dogs would disappear. Always kind and laughing so I don't think he did anything bad with them. Was he at your track, too?"

"He sure was. He works at EVERY track. I know 'cuz all the Greyhound Detectives talk about him."

"Like I said, I never thought he was a bad human..."

"Bad? NO WAY!! The Stranger is AWESOME. He finds the most specialest Greyhounds, the ones who need a loving family the absolute mostest and then he finds the humans who need Greyhound Detectives to watch over them and he gets them all together. Humans know this so every year they give each other gifts and they give their Greyhounds gifts and the Greyhounds give the family gifts so that the Stranger will know he's doing a great job and will keep doing it."

"So what are the lights for?"

"Well, on the night before Greyhound Gift Day, everyone but mom and dad go to bed early. They stay up for some peace and quiet and they drink funny smelling drinks that they won't share with us. Then, after they go to bed, the Stranger brings all sorts of gifts for everyone to give each other. The lights are on so he doesn't get lost in the dark and trip on stuff and wake everyone up."

"Good thinking, I suppose, why not just leave the lights on in the room?"

"I haven't even got to the best part yet," I say, glossing over the interruption. "In the morning, the kids get up super early before even the sun and wake everyone up. Then we go down to the Greyhound Gift Day Tree and tear open all the gifts. Mom, Dad and the kids get toys and stuff and we get all sorts of yummy treats. Now, you could play it like a rookie and sniff around till you find something that smells real good and just open that or you can be a real pro, like me, and help open all the presents. The humans take FOREVER to open anything and they are always so grateful when you help open their gifts. You can tell by all the big noises they make!!"

"Hold on, Tree? What's the tree all about? There's no dirt in here at all, so how would a tree grow?"

"That's the silly thing. You see, the humans think the tree is to show the Stranger where to put all the presents. Humans like to play hide and seek but they're really bad at it, so they think the presents are there so they can play their silly game and win but that tree is really there for us. It's soooooo obvious."

"Ok. What's it *really* there for, then?" She had that look again. She sure was getting lots of brain growing!

"Well, they stick the tree in the biggest bowl of water you'll ever see. The Stranger knows that opening presents is thirsty work, so he makes sure the humans put that big bowl of water there for us on Gift Day Morning. The best thing is the tree is like a giant flavor stick. It's such an amazing holiday treat!"

"That doesn't sound quite right to me." By the looks of it, her brain was growing fast, I tell you! I'm just the bestest Greyhound Detective Trainer ever!

"Well, it is! One thing, though. That tree is NOT for peeing. I learned that the hardway."

"Oh, Prince." She sighed, obviously content with all the new things I was teaching her.

A few days later, Dad brought the tree in and stuck it right in the holiday water bowl. Then they put all sorts of pretty things on it and sang songs and ate cookies. Dad and the kids shared them with us when they weren't looking. They're VERY thoughtful! Mom even made us a special holiday meal by dropping a full plate of chicken on the floor. She doesn't do that often, but I know how happy she was that we enjoyed it because of all the big noises she made. She was so happy that Dad covered the children's ears and took them out of the room! Private dining! Woohoo! Mom put special greyhound hunting gear on us. They looked like deer antlers so we could sneak up on the deer without them noticing us. Just as I started to dream about chasing them down, she flashed a big light in our eyes and took the hunting gear off. I guess she wanted to make sure it didn't get dirty before the hunting trip. Anyway, lots of people came over to visit and the days passed until it was Early Bedtime Night.

On Early Bedtime Night, Mom and Dad shuffled everyone off to bed. Lady got to stay up late because she's a meany-headed cat-brain butt-kisser.

"Or, Maybe I just didn't try to steal Mom's crackers and cheese all night?"

"Meany-headed Cat-Brain Butt-Kisser!" Anyway, they finally came to bed, too, and we all went to sleep and then....

The kids woke everyone up before Dad could talk straight. I didn't even have to nose-poke his eye or nothing! The sun wasn't even up yet, but there we were, helping to open all the presents and listening to the family laugh and play and it was a really, really happy time. Finally, after all the mess (and what a wonderful mess it was!) was cleaned up and things got quieter we all settled down for an extra cozy Greyhound Gift Day nap!

I was just about to drift off when Lady opened one eye and talked to me in her meany-headed cat-brain butt-kissy sleepy voice. "Prince? I got a question."

"What's up, Lady?"

I am nothing if not patient and wonderful.

"Well, we got gifts and the family got gifts but we didn't give the family anything. why?"



"Did you eat any of the pretty paper the gifts came in?"

She looked at me with a little guilt in her eyes. "Yeah, I guess so, why?"

"Then the humans get their gifts a little later on...."

Greyhounds aren't just dogs, they are a way of life!