Authors: Holly Webb
For Eddie and Jamie – keep writing!
For more information about Holly Webb visit: www.holly-webb.com
“How’s yours coming along, Katie?” Dad asked.
“I’m just thinking…” Katie doodled in the corner of her Christmas present list. A little dog’s face, with big long ears and round, dark eyes. She smiled to herself. He was cute!
“Well, it’s only four weeks until Christmas,” Dad pointed out. “Both of
your grans want to know what to get you as well, you know. You’ll end up with socks, if you don’t give them some ideas.”
Katie’s list wasn’t very long. Just a couple of books, some new trainers and a mobile phone, which she knew she wouldn’t get because her mum thought she was too young.
“Is that all?” her dad asked in surprise, looking over her shoulder.
Katie looked at him thoughtfully. Was now the right moment to ask?
Dad glanced over at Jess’s list. Katie’s older sister was sitting on the other side of the table, and her list was enormous. It was also very messy. “I can’t read any of that!” he complained. “You’ll have to copy it out, Jess.”
Jess looked down at her paper and grinned. “It’s not my fault. Misty kept coming and sitting on it, you know what she’s like! I had to write around her.”
Misty the cat stopped washing her paws when she heard her name, and looked at them all innocently.
she seemed to be saying. She adored pieces of paper, and if anyone was writing, or reading a newspaper, she was never happy until she was sitting right in the middle of the page.
Jess leaned across the table to look at Katie’s list, too. “You’re not getting a phone,” she pointed out. “Mum won’t even let
have one. You can’t only want a pair of trainers.”
“Sounds like a nice easy Christmas shopping trip,” Mum said, coming into the kitchen.
Katie smiled hopefully. She’d only put the phone on the list so her parents would say no, and then hopefully they’d be more likely to say yes to what she
wanted. “So I can’t have a phone, then?” she sighed.
“Absolutely not!” her mum said.
“Oh,” Katie said, crossing it out. She tried to sound disappointed, but it wasn’t very convincing. “Well, there is one other thing…”
Her dad folded his arms, smiling at her. “I knew it! Go on, break it to me gently, Katie. What is it, an elephant?”
Katie smiled back. “Not quite. But … it is an animal.” She took a deep breath. “I really, really want a pet.”
Mum and Dad exchanged a thoughtful glance, and Jess stopped chewing her pen and sat bolt upright.
“A pet! We can’t have another cat, what about Misty? She’d hate it.”
Katie shook her head. “I know. I don’t want a cat. I want a dog. A puppy. That’s what I’d absolutely, definitely, more-than-anything like for Christmas. Please?” she added, smiling as sweetly as she could at her dad. She knew how much he loved dogs…
“I’m not sure it’s a very good idea,
Katie,” Mum said slowly. She looked at Misty, who’d gone back to washing herself. “Jess, please don’t let Misty sit on the table. Her paws are dirty.”
“They can’t be, she spends the whole time washing them!” Jess pointed out. “Anyway, she’ll just jump up again when you aren’t looking, Mum.”
Mum picked Misty up, and tickled her under the chin. “Not on the table, Misty,” she said firmly.
Misty stared at her, waiting until she turned round. Then she leaped straight back up again. Katie, Dad and Jess giggled, and Mum peered over her shoulder and sighed. “I think I’ll just pretend I didn’t see that,” she muttered.
“Mum, why isn’t it a good idea?” Katie asked pleadingly. “It would be
brilliant to have a dog. You can train dogs,” she added persuasively. “I’m sure a dog would be better-behaved than Misty!”
Misty glared at Katie, then jumped on to Jess’s lap. “Misty’s very well-behaved,” Jess protested, stroking her gently.
“Anyway,” Jess continued, “I don’t think Misty would like us having a dog. She hates dogs. Remember how cross she got when Meg from next door got under the fence? She hid up at the top of the apple tree for hours!”
Mum nodded. “I know. Misty might not be keen. We’d have to make a lot of extra fuss over her. And who’d look after this dog when the two of you were at school? Me, I suppose!” But she was smiling.
“Well, if we did get a puppy, we’d certainly have to be careful. We’d have to introduce the puppy to Misty slowly, so they got used to each other.” Dad smiled thoughtfully. “I had a dog when I was your age. It was great fun – we went on lots of walks together, in the
park and down to the woods. And now you’re eight, Katie, I think you’re old enough to help care for a puppy, feeding it and grooming it. Having someone else to look after would help you to be more responsible.”
“You mean we
have a puppy?” Katie cried, jumping up excitedly and nearly knocking her chair over.
“No,” Dad said firmly. “I mean we’ll think about it. Not no, but not yes. We need to think it through very carefully, it’s not something you can just decide in a moment.”
But Katie had seen the wistful look in Dad’s eyes when he was remembering those walks with his dog. And she was almost sure that really he meant yes.
Dad refused to say anything else about dogs that weekend. Katie tried asking a couple of times if he and Mum had had time to think about it yet, but she didn’t want to get on his nerves right now. She couldn’t believe that they actually might be getting a puppy! She’d hoped, of course, but hadn’t really expected them to say yes, or even
half-yes. It was so exciting!
She spent ages on Sunday afternoon looking at her favourite dog websites on the computer, wondering what sort of puppy they might be able to get, and reading all the advice for new
. There was an awful lot to learn. Especially if you already had another pet, like Misty.
Katie dreamed of dogs that night. She was running through the woods with a gorgeous puppy, just like Dad had described. When she woke up she had a huge smile on her face, although she couldn’t quite remember what the puppy had looked like. Brown and white, she thought vaguely, with big, floppy ears. But she could remember his happy, excited little bark, and the soft
feel of his springy fur under her hand. It was a wonderful dream. And it might, just possibly, be about to come true!
She was still smiling as she wandered downstairs for breakfast, with her school uniform on all anyhow and her curly hair still full of tangles.
Mum took one look and sent her back upstairs again. “Brush your hair, Katie, for goodness’ sake. And put it in bunches, you’ve got PE today, remember.” She smiled. “I’d hurry up, if I were you. Dad and I have got something to tell you both!”
Katie raced back up to the bathroom. As she galloped up the stairs, she could hear Jess asking what was going on.
Less than two minutes later, Katie was back. Her hair was in bunches,
although the bands didn’t match and one was higher than the other. “What is it?What do you want to tell us?” she gasped, as she dashed into the kitchen.
Dad chewed a mouthful of cereal very, very slowly, and winked. He was obviously enjoying keeping them in suspense.
Mum shook her head. “Don’t tease Katie, Gareth! It isn’t fair!” She gave Jess a slightly anxious look as she said it.
“OK, OK!” Dad put down his cereal bowl, and beamed at Katie. “Yes.”
“Yes? Really?” Katie jumped up and down excitedly and ran to hug her dad. “When? This Christmas? We’re getting a puppy for Christmas!”
“But you can’t!” Jess cried. She pushed her plate away and stood up. “You just can’t, Dad! What about Misty? Katie can’t look after a dog properly, anyway! And what about all those adverts on TV about not giving dogs as presents?
A dog is for life, not just for Christmas
. All those poor puppies get abandoned every year, it’s wrong!”
Dad nodded seriously. “I know, Jess, sit down. You too, Katie. I haven’t finished explaining.”
Jess sat down, looking worried, and Katie sat too, though she was so happy she could hardly keep still.
Dad leaned towards them. “We’re not giving you a puppy for Christmas, Katie—”
Katie’s eyes opened wide with horror.
“But you said…”
“We are getting a puppy, but he or she will be a family dog. Like Misty’s a family cat, Jess. You’re right that Katie’s a bit too young to have all the responsibility of a dog by herself.” Dad smiled at Katie. “There’s a lot of looking after, so don’t worry, there’ll still be plenty for you to do.”
Katie felt like butting in and saying that actually, she was sure she
old enough, but she decided it was best not to.
Mum leaned over to touch Jess’s hand. “Try not to worry, Jess. We know we’re going to need to be really careful when Misty meets the puppy. We’ll all do our best to make sure she doesn’t get upset.”
“And the puppy won’t arrive at
Christmas, Katie,” Dad added. “We’re going to try and get one before Christmas, if we can, or maybe afterwards. Christmas is just too busy – it’s not a good time to bring a new dog into the house. Mum and I have agreed we’ll look around for someone with puppies for sale locally. Happy now?” Dad beamed.
Katie nodded blissfully, but Jess was staring at the table, twisting her fingers together. “I still think Misty’s going to hate it,” she muttered. She looked anxiously over at Misty, snoozing by the kitchen radiator on her favourite pink blanket. It had been Jess’s when she was little, and Misty had adopted it.
“What sort of dog shall we get?” Katie asked, ignoring her grumpy big sister.
She wished she could remember the puppy in her dream better.
“Nothing too big!” Mum said quickly.
“But not too small, either. We want to be able to go on some good long walks.” Dad sounded as though he was really looking forward to it. “Maybe a terrier? An Airedale, they’re great dogs, really friendly.”
“I’ve always liked pugs,” Mum said thoughtfully.
“The ones with the squished-up faces?” Katie asked, giggling.
Mum nodded. “I like the way their tails curl up,” she said, smiling. “What about you, Katie? This was your idea. What kind of dog would you like?”
Katie thought back to her dream.
“What sort of dog has long ears?” she asked, wrinkling her nose as she tried to remember more. “A brown and white puppy with long ears. I dreamed about one like that last night.”
Jess sniffed, as though she thought that was silly. “You can’t get a dog because of a dream.”
“Why not?” Mum asked gently. “Katie’s been thinking about it a lot, Jess. That’s probably why she dreamed about a puppy.”
“Maybe it was a spaniel?” Dad suggested. He got up and disappeared into the living room. They could hear him muttering to himself as he searched the bookcase, and he came back with Katie’s dog sticker book. “Was he anything like this, Katie?”
Katie took the book and gasped with delight. There he was. A little brown and white dog, staring impishly out of the page at her, his eyes bright and alert. “A cocker spaniel,” she murmured, reading the caption. “Oh, yes! I mean, I’d love any dog – even one with a squished face, Mum! But I’d really, really love one of those…”