Merry Christmas, even if you’re a dog

By Mulligan Mitchell - Contributing columnist

(Translated from meow to English by her servant.)

I’d rather be hiding in the dark woods right now under a pile of brush listening to the neighbors’ abundant flock of poultry quacking and honking, but my female human servant only wanted one thing for Christmas: this article.

So she put me to work, for once.

A lady in Urbana named Betty Spencer sent me a gift for Christmas and my servant made me share it with my wicked older step-sisters, Sadie and Camouflage. Hand-sewn mice stuffed with catnip are my favorite. I slobbered all over the envelope that held the mice because the nip is so prime it soaks through the paper and drives me crazy.

So thank you Betty, we all love the nippy mice.

It’s been a strange few years since I moved here in 2018 from a barn in Clark County. The first few years I had my run of the woods where my house is nestled. I chased Camouflage around the front yard for two summers and she chased me back. Over the tiny creek we would leap trying to avoid each other’s blows. Up the hill and around the house, onto the firewood stack, up the stairs onto the deck and toward the sliding doors we would fly, hoping for our servant to open the doors and feed us our many handfuls of nibbles for the day.

Business was good. Summer was warm and we didn’t mind if the servant went swimming for a few hours each day. Then we had to move our chaos into the house for the winter, except for few brief frolics in the deep snow.

Inside the house is the cranky elder cat named Sadie who lived here for 10 years before I moved in. She doesn’t like me or Camouflage and shrieks or growls if we come near her. So, of course, we try to attack her when she least expects it.

Sadie thinks she owns all the heat coming off the wood stove. She curls up like a queen on a pillow atop a table directly across from the fire, leaving us to sleep on either side of the stove. Camouflage (who still does not like me at all) sleeps on a kitchen stool up high where the spindles of the chair back protect her from being harassed by me.

During the first year of the pandemic, my servant worked from home a lot because she was recovering from yet another cancer treatment and she didn’t want to catch the novel breed of lung cooties that began circulating. I loved to curl up next to my servant on the sofa while she worked because it made me feel important. I was born wearing a permanent white mask, so she felt safe around me.

Eventually, my servant caught the lung cooties in a most unlikely place before the holidays last year, was later vaccinated against the cooties in the spring and began to disappear from the house for many hours at a time (something called golf).

One chilly evening last spring, my servant fell asleep on the sofa while I was out frolicking in the front yard. I got hungry but she didn’t serve me right away at the sliding door. Puzzled, I went looking for her on the little township road where neighbors walk their dogs in the evening. I’ll never tell which canine is to blame, but one of them chased me and I frantically climbed a tall, crooked tree in the neighbor’s front yard.

My servant came looking for me when she awakened from her nap at dusk. I could hear her beckoning me by yelling “milk” and “chicken,” but I was stuck in a tree about 40 feet up and was afraid. She had no idea where I was and wrote me off as a goner after driving her SUV through the woods with the headlights on searching for me.

The following morning, the neighbors noticed me in their tree. The details of what happened next are top secret, but it’s safe to say my servant will be voting for all fire department tax levies in the future.

I’m not allowed to go outside for very long anymore. My servant doesn’t want me outside at all, but I cry incessantly and claw at the door until she relents. Sometimes I get to play outside under strict supervision, but the deal is I have to dictate this Christmas article to her when I return. She’s teaching me about gratitude this year. Bah Humbug.

It’s OK. Life could be worse. The guy who bought the barn where I used to live was rumored to de-fang cougars in his spare time, or so I heard. He seemed nice when I met him, but why take a chance?

I like it right where I am: in front of a wood stove at Christmas time, eating way too much food and getting fatter (don’t tell the veterinarian).

The nippy mice from Betty might give me the spark to lose an ounce or two from my girth, but so far it just gives me the munchies.

I’m hungry again. This article took too long and my servant fell asleep on the couch again. She’s so lazy. But at least I still have my fangs and I’m not stuck in a tree on a cold night.

Merry Christmas everyone … even to that dog who chased me and used up one of my nine lives.

I hope someone gets him a bigger chew toy this year because I will be too fat to get back up that tall, crooked tree in the spring.

By Mulligan Mitchell

Contributing columnist

Mulligan Mitchell moved to Champaign County in 2018, a refugee from Clark County after the golf equipment barn where she was living closed. She has four white paws and no kittens.

Mulligan Mitchell moved to Champaign County in 2018, a refugee from Clark County after the golf equipment barn where she was living closed. She has four white paws and no kittens.