Thursday, December 24, 2009


[This story was selected by Angels on Earth as one of the prize winning stories in their Christmas Story Contest a few years ago. Contestants were to write their version of the Christmas story from the point of view of Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, one of the wise men, the innkeeper, a shepherd, or an animal in the stable. I chose to write about a stray dog, Marian, who was there. I’m pleased to share my story with you for Christmas.]


It was a bitterly cold night in Bethlehem, but the little pregnant dog pushed on to her destination. Marian, as she was called, was not sure where she was going, but she only knew that she had to get there. A large, glistening star overhead seemed to guide her. Her human family had put her out into the cold saying they had no room or food for one more mouth. They had taken her in when they saw her begging for scraps of food in the marketplace. They didn’t know then that she was going to have puppies. She was grateful when they took her home with them, but as her tiny stomach began to swell with her progeny, she was tossed back onto the streets. Now, she only knew that she had to follow that glowing star.

She stopped for a moment to rest. She was cold, hungry and sad. She was too cold to sleep, and too tired to walk further, but her instinct told her that she had to follow that star, that something wonderful awaited her when she reached the place where the star shone down. She knew it would be there where her babies would be born. Marian picked up a scent, actually several scents, of animals. Suddenly she saw a pack of wild dogs coming toward her. She summoned up her last ounce of courage; she knew she would have to fight these dogs. The leader of the pack halted the group a few feet from her. He walked slowly toward her. She sensed no animosity from him, but she stood her ground. The lead dog noted her hanging teats and enlarged abdomen. He understood that she had been abandoned as had the rest of the dogs in the pack. He sniffed Marian, and then turned to his pack and sent a silent signal to them. Two female dogs came forward and went to Marian. They rubbed muzzles and stood close to her. They urged Marian to follow them into the woods where they would find pine branches for her to lay on to give birth. But Marian raised her head to the heavens, and when the other dogs looked up, they saw the dazzling star beckoning them. Marian hurried on her way, followed by the pack of wild dogs, all following the star.

Suddenly, in the distance Marian saw a tiny stable. She saw shepherds, sheep, lambs, and donkeys around a manger. A scent of welcoming emanated from the stable. The dogs hurried forward, unafraid of the huge farm animals standing around. Marian looked into the face of a baby, and at that moment every person and animal present went down on their knees before the baby, including Marian. The Baby Jesus stretched out His tiny hand as if to bid Marian to come to Him. Marian looked at the parents of the baby, seated on either side of the manger, silently asking their permission. The parents’ smiling eyes gave consent. Marian limped into the stable and went up close to the baby. He held out His hand and touched her nose. The touch was brief and barely felt, but Marian knew without knowing how that all was right with her little world, the world of abandoned dogs. She knew this was the savior she had heard people talking about in the marketplace. She knew she had been blessed by that savior. She knew also that she and her babies would be saved because she had been touched by this special baby boy. She knew that nothing in her life or the life of the world would ever be the same.

She bowed her head before the baby and limped out of the stable. The pack of dogs had disappeared. Behind the stable Marian lay down in a patch of dry grass, and there she delivered her six puppies. Each was born with a star on its forehead. As they suckled, one of the shepherds came to check on her. He gathered up Marian and her little family, and took them home with him. Before Marian closed her eyes in sleep on that starry night, the once abandoned and frightened little dog, looked once again to the star that had drawn her to the special baby boy. She bowed her head in homage to the King of Kings, and the Savior of the world. Marian rested, knowing that she had been privileged to see the one who came to save the world.



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