Mabel the Christmas dog

December 21, 2019

16  comments

Mabel the Christmas dog - leslieannetarabella.com
From the very beginning, Mabel was the guardian of our boys.

Christmas was a little over a week away, but Mabel wasn’t going to make it to the end of the week. It’s never a good time to lose your pet, but during the holiday season, it’s gut-wrenchingly horrible. Especially when it’s the pet who helped raise your children. Mabel slept beneath my boy’s baby beds, listened while they learned to read, and ran along beside them through the swamps and gullies of Mobile Bay on wild adventures.

Mabel the Christmas dog - leslieannetarabella.com
This is the year when Lois Lane the beagle was a little pup and Mabel wasn’t doing so well.

The pointy eared yellow mutt usually curled up beneath the Christmas tree each year and used it as her personal napping area. She always seemed to love Christmas. This year, she could barely walk across the room, much less find the twinkling tree. Since Mabel wasn’t eating or drinking and couldn’t walk, our vet said to bring her in on Tuesday morning for what would be a final goodbye.

We decided to wait and tell the boys after the fact, when they returned home from school on Tuesday afternoon, but there was one more problem. Joe, our youngest son, had ridden his bicycle downtown the week before, and using his own money, bought dog treats from the pet store. He wrapped the gift and placed it beneath the tree. We couldn’t let him come home to find his dog gone with the treats unopened, so on Monday night, we suggested, “You know, sometimes it’s fun to unwrap a present early. Since Mabel doesn’t feel well, let’s let her open her gift now.”

Mabel the Christmas dog - leslieannetarabella.com
Poor Joe didn’t understand what was going to happen the next day, but we snapped a few pictures so he could remember his last Christmas with Mabel.

Joe knelt in front of his dog. Mabel sniffed the gift as her 10 year old boy helped her open the box. Shaking, Mabel looked at us with cloudy eyes, and at one point even stumbled and fell. My husband and I hid our tears. Then, almost out of politeness, Mabel took a bite of the treat. She nibbled it, then ate the other.

Mabel the Christmas dog - leslieannetarabella.com

We all went to bed, and I think I cried most of the night, knowing what I would have to face the next morning. When the alarm sounded, I was already awake, praying, “God, why do our hearts have to be broken at Christmastime?”

And then, as I prepared breakfast, Mabel walked in and started slurping water out of her bowl, then came over and touched her nose to my leg. She seemed steady, so I put some food in her dish, and she began to eat. “Hey look! Mabel is eating!” the boys yelled as they came scampering into the room. Sure enough, Mabel was still an old, sick dog, but she had a new stability and clarity in her eyes.

We got the boys off to school and called the Veterinarian. “You aren’t going to believe this, but Mabel is a new dog this morning.”

“Did anything happen to her?” he asked.

“Well, Joe gave her a Christmas present last night.”

“I believe in Christmas miracles.” he said.

We were able to celebrate one last Christmas with Mabel, and she was almost her old self, snuggling beneath the tree once more, and wagging her tail as we opened gifts. But by the next Spring, she was gone. We’ll never know what gave her that last bit of determination to keep going, but of course, we believe that when you are truly loved at Christmas, miracles can happen.

Mabel the Christmas dog - leslieannetarabella.com

This story first appeared on AL.com and in the Mobile Press-Register, Birmingham News and Huntsville Times.

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  1. Oh…my goodness…How precious! We all have been through losing a dog. I will never forget having to put our Sally down. She was the one who raised our kids. Paul Allen was so sad and it was almost hard to send him to school the next day. Sweet story. They really are family.
    Merry Christmas.

  2. Such a wonderful story for this Sunday before Christmas! This will most likely be our last Christmas with my Grand Dog, Sinatra the Beagle (he has a blue eye!); at age 14 he’s given my daughter and son in law wonderful companionship, love and laughs. But his age is certainly showing and the vet is preparing us for the inevitable. We will miss that neurotic pup, but are thankful for our years together. And there will be a few extra treats in his stocking this year.

  3. Sweet, sweet memories, our golden retriever loved everyone of our grandchildren as they came to visit as babies. For 14 years, he was a blessing. He could pick out his gifts under the tree and rip them open.
    W. J. Francisco wrote this song. GOD and DOG.
    A quote from the short tune…
    I look up and I see God, I look down and see my dog.
    In my human frailty, I can’t match their love for me.
    We treasure all the memories he helped us raise our grands.

  4. We have outlived so many dear pets over the years that it would take paragraphs to describe them and how much they meant to us. Every one had a different personality from sweet and gentle to dorky and not too bright. Most died of old age and we fed them by hand and begged them to linger just a little longer. Religious leaders have told us that pets don’t go to heaven because they don’t have a soul. My reply to that is if they aren’t there waiting for me, I will follow them to their heaven. It will be full of good dogs, cats, horses, and critters of all sizes.

    1. My mother said her pastor told her that heaven will have whatever it takes to make us happy. She was a little girl and it made her feel better. I think I like his idea best, because my dogs will be waiting for me!

      1. Leslie Anne and Karen, my minister just told me the same thing about Heaven will have what is needed to make us happy. When I go to Heaven, I know all my dear pets will be there. I’m just hoping they won’t all need feeding because I’ve had so many over the years! What a beautiful story about Mabel. Thank you for sharing. All 3 of our rescue dogs have managed to curl up on top of me as I write this through tears.

  5. Oh goodness Leslie Anne, I am crying like a baby! What a heart wrencher…when we had to put our precious Shih-tzu, Sherlock Bones, to sleep, my heart truly broke in half…I told my husband I could never go through that again, so hard! And then, God gave me grandchildren! Have a wonderful and blessed Christmas Leslie Anne ❤️

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