The Christmas Sweater


The dog stood rooted in the doorway, in the middle of the hall. Her lower teeth jutted out of her mouth and her ears were back. She was wearing a red and white sweater with the words “Ho Ho Ho” down the back. She wouldn’t walk in it.

The party guests were dribbling in and floating past her, laughing and complimenting her. Her stubby tail wagged now and again, but nothing like it usually did, when there was no sweater.

During a lull between guests, the dog turned and walked stiffly to the front room where she had a bed. She stretched carefully onto it, not quite able to relax with the foreign apparatus pulling at her shoulders. Adding indignity to indecency, the polyester sweater was too small for a dog of her well-fed stature.

Sweater aside, her owner was generally one of the better humans. She fed, opened the door with little prompting, gave treats, and cleaned the toys when they’d gotten stiff from chewing. But today, she’d put the sweater on the dog. Today, she kept saying “Ho Ho Ho” while she made food without sharing it. Today, she sang like a howling beagle to music with bells. The dog sighed.

Eventually the dog drifted into a light-snoring sort of nap, interrupted when her owner came into the room. The woman teetered a bit, leaning to pet the dog. She’d brought a few bits of cheese, which she shared without requiring any action on the dog’s part.

The dog looked up at her person and put her ears back. The woman set her glass down on the mantle and lowered herself to the floor, sitting near the dog’s head. She looked into the dog’s brown eyes and cooed, “What a pretty girl.” The dog gazed back at her and burped. The woman laughed and pulled the sweater over the dog’s head, petting her, and planting a wet kiss on top of her furry head before returning to the party.

The dog stood and stretched her hind legs forward and backward, putting her butt in the air and her elbows down on the rug where the sweater had fallen. She picked it up by its fur-lined hood and shook it, breaking its neck. The dog pawed and gnawed at the sweater until only the mangled Ho Ho Ho remained.