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Santa's helpers in Stafford display dogged determination on Christmas Eve
By LEE WOOLF
'TWAS THE NIGHT before Christmas, and Santa was psyched.
But when he checked on his reindeer, he was shocked by the sight.
They were all down in bed; it was painful to see.
"It's the flu," moaned Rudolph. "We're as sick as can be."
"But it's Christmas Eve," shouted Santa. "The snow's getting deep.
"And we must cover Stafford while the children still sleep."
"Sorry, boss, I can't move," Rudolph said with a cough.
"And Donner and Blitzenthey're even worse off."
"Good grief," said Santa. "I'm sorry you're sick.
"But I've got toys to move and I've got to be quick.
"I can't fly in this weather, just hear the wind howl.
"It would take a dog sled to save Christmas now."
"I've got it!" said Rudolph. "I know just who to call.
"My friends at the shelter, they'll lend you a paw."
Still, Santa was scared and he fought back tears.
Could the shelter really offer dog volunteers?
"Not to worry," said Butch, a broad-shouldered husky.
"Meet Larry the Lab and this shepherd named Rusty.
"We can't fly like reindeer, but we'll bring you good luck.
"The snow's been my playground since I was a pup."
So Santa hooked up a sled full of strays.
He'd seen nothing like it in all his long days.
There was Harry the hound and Pixie the pug,
And a golden retriever that gave him a hug.
And when they were harnessed and ready to go,
Santa was amazed how they moved through the snow.
The bulldog, the collie, the cute Pekinese,
They pulled all those toys with the greatest of ease.
He rolled through Falmouth and then Ferry Farms,
Leaving toys and sweaters and trinkets and charms.
Next came White Oak and then Belle Plains,
Where he left winter jackets and plenty of games.
He paused at Brooke Station for a hot cup of tea,
Then pushed on to the Courthouse for another gift spree.
Homes in the Harbour got more toys and clothes.
Then the cold Widewater wind chilled Santa's nose.
The dogs picked up speed as they passed Doc Stone Road,
Still barking and smiling despite Santa's big load.
Garrisonville was quiet with no traffic in sight,
As Santa put presents under Christmas-tree lights.
Ruby was next and then Curtis Park,
As Santa's dream team mushed on through the dark.
Then when toys were delivered on Berea Church Road,
Santa had finished his Stafford gift load.
Back at the shelter, Santa thanked his new friends.
But he knew that's not how the story should end.
So he stopped at the office and paid the small fee
To adopt all the dogs who had saved Christmas Eve.
Now Rudolph is happy with pals all around,
Like Butch the husky and Harry the hound.
And when Santa is tired and ready to nap,
He has Pixie the pug to sleep on his lap.
To reach LEE WOOLF: 540/720-5470 firstname.lastname@example.org