“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” (Prov. 17:22)
I could tell that something special was about to happen, but I had no idea what it could be.
The little gray haired lady that I call Mama kept making special trips in the big black truck but she wouldn’t let me go. Not once did she get my leash and harness for a road trip.
She would return with special things in plastic bags and show them to the big round man that everyone in our family calls Daddy. She would open the bags and let Daddy look, but she wouldn’t let me sniff inside like she usually did when she came back home from shopping.
I could tell the bags held special things because they had the same smells that filled my nose at Christmas when we opened presents. Inside my presents at Christmas were a new rubber ball and a plastic bone.
I could smell these same smells now when Mama would come home with the plastic bags, and I would jump up and down, but she would say, “Not now, Jake. You can’t see it yet. Get down boy.”
Brother would come home from work and the same thing would happen. He would walk through the door with the bright yellow bags that usually have treats in them.
I would jump and wag my tail and sniff the outside of the bag, but brother would say, “These aren’t treats, boy. You have to wait. It’s not time yet.” Then he would take the bags to his room and hide them.
Yes, something definitely strange was going on, but not a bad strange. I could tell it was a good kind of strange.
After they would tell me “no” about looking in the bags, they would smile at me and scratch my head, and say, “Good boy. That’s a good boy. That’s our sweet baby.”
Oh, how I love this family that found me! I am so glad the Creator brought me here.
Then one day after Mama came home, I heard a word that I hadn’t heard for a while, but it caused me to get excited!
I heard Mama whisper to Daddy as they looked inside one of the special bags, “Look what I got for Jake’s birthday.”
I remembered that word! Ever since my new family had found me under the cedar tree and took me in, there had been several times when something wonderful would happen.
Mama would make a big cake with colorful sticks on top. Daddy would light the top of the sticks with fire and then everyone would shout “Happy Birthday!”
Someone would blow out the sticks and they would all eat cake and open presents. Mama would give me dog treats, and I would sniff through all of the wrapping paper and bows that fell on the floor.
Everyone would laugh and we would have a great time.
I wasn’t quite sure what a birthday was, but I knew it meant fun. I couldn’t wait to tell Marvin and Spots about my birthday that was coming!
As soon as Mama let me go outside to play, I ran to the corner of the back yard where my best friend Marvin the possum lived under a pile of branches.
“Hey Marvin, are you in there?” I shouted as I raced toward Marvin’s house.
“I’m up here in the tree,” Marvin called back. “What are you so excited about? I don’t think that I have ever seen you bounce so high when you run.”
“I just found out that it is going to be my BIRTHDAY! Isn’t that just GREAT?” I said as I began running around in circles for joy.
“Wow!” said Marvin as he climbed down the tree. “It must be something wonderful for you to be this happy. But I never heard of a birthday before. What is a birthday?”
Marvin jumped to the ground with a thud and sat next to me in the grass as we watched Spots the calf playing in the cow field.
“I’m not quite sure what the word birthday means. All I know is that when someone in my family has one, we all eat special treats and everyone gives presents to the person having it.”
Spots had stopped playing and was listening to Marvin and I talk.
“Oh Jake,” he said. “You’re so silly. Your Birthday is the day you were born.”
“Do you remember last winter when the tree branch fell and hurt Marvin? I was born that night, so that makes it my birthday. Every year families celebrate the day you were born.”
“Oh,” I replied. “Now I understand. But my family found me out in the field under the cedar tree. How can they know what day I was born?”
“You know,” said Marvin. “If I remember right, the weather was warm and the trees were just starting to have leaves like they are now when your family found you. They must have picked the day that you were found to be your birthday.”
“They are probably going to celebrate it any day now.”
“Hooray!” I shouted as I started to run around in circles. “I’m having a birthday! There’s probably going to be new toys to play with and special treats to eat. Hooray!”
Marvin and Spots looked at each other and smiled.
A few days later, I woke up and realized that Mom and Dad were not in the bed. I always hear them when they wake up. They must have been very quiet when they got up this morning.
I jumped up from my place next to the bed and ran out into the hallway. I looked into Brother’s room and he wasn’t in his bed either. Where was my family?
I heard a noise in the kitchen, so I ran through the living room and to the kitchen door. As I got to the kitchen door, suddenly there was a loud noise that caused me to come to a sliding stop.
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JAKE!”
Mom, Dad, and Brother were all standing beside the kitchen table. They were all wearing funny colored hats and had little paper horns that they started blowing. “Toot, toot” went the horns.
“Happy Birthday, Jake!” everybody yelled again.
On top of the kitchen table was a little cake made out of canned chicken in the shape of a bone with two colored sticks in it. There was a saucer with dog biscuits and rawhide treats, and there were some presents wrapped in colorful paper.
Daddy lit the top of the two sticks on fire and said, “Jake is two years old today. Happy Birthday Jake! Brother, why don’t you blow the candles out for Jake?”
Brother leaned over and blew the fire out that was on the two colored sticks and Mama set the chicken cake on the floor for me to eat. They all laughed as I gobbled it down.
I finished the little cake and then stood up on my back legs to sniff the pretty presents that were on the table.
Mama laughed and said, “I think somebody is ready to open presents. Let’s go into the living room so Jake can have more room to play.”
Brother brought my presents and sat next to me on the floor. I was hopping and wagging my tail and sniffing at the paper. “Settle down, Jake. I’m opening them as fast as I can.”
Inside the pretty paper was a big plastic donut that squeaked when I chewed it, a hard rubber bone, another squeaky toy that looked like a hotdog, and a green rubber football that wobbled all over the floor when I pushed it with my nose.
Everybody laughed when I couldn’t decide which one to play with and I just bounced from toy to toy so that I could taste, and chew, and shake them all.
Mama gave me some of my dog biscuits and rawhide treats, but I was too excited to eat anything else.
It was a great party, but I just couldn’t wait any longer to go and tell Marvin and Spots that today was my birthday, and tell them about all the great gifts that I had gotten.
I went to the door and grunted like a pig, and Mom let me go outside.
(TO BE CONTINUED)