65: Trick or Treat

65: Trick or Treat

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Dog Did That!

Trick or Treat

Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen,
Voices whisper in the trees, “Tonight is Halloween!”

~Dexter Kozen

“Trick or treat!”

A sea of cherubic-faced princesses, ghosts and goblins raised their jack-o’-lanterns in the hopes of obtaining candy. Marley sat to our right, wagging his tail incessantly. He loved little people. And despite his imposing size, most of them felt likewise. Many times, Marley found himself surrounded by neighborhood children — especially giggly girls.

“May I hug him?” they would say squealing, burying their faces into his clumpy, white dreadlocks.

But that night, after the third or fourth Halloween salutation, Marley grew agitated. Our Komondor watched anxiously as brightly wrapped candy clunked into buckets and bags, then issued a whimper.

“What’s wrong with him?” I asked.

My husband shrugged, mystified. We didn’t know what to make of it. Marley’s whines escalated and eventually coincided with cramming his dinosaur-like head into bags for candy retrieval. We replaced the candy, of course, and then reprimanded our large companion for his outburst. Marley plopped to the ground.

“Maybe we should put him inside,” I suggested.

“Let’s give him another chance,” my husband answered.

“Trick or treat!” a child cried, his feet creating a chorus of crunching and crackling over the carpet of red, yellow, orange and brown leaves.

Marley sat up straight and tall, leaves clinging to his Velcro-like hair. His expressive eyebrows moved up and down and enormous, pink tongue remained frozen. Marley’s eyes shifted from us to the child, until . . . plunk, the candy dropped into the bag. Marley pawed the sack.

While my husband took care of the matter, I went inside to grab more candy. Upon returning, he had a peculiar smile on his face and suggested putting our overwrought assistant inside. Marley assumed a seat near the window. I went back outside.

“I know what the problem is,” said my husband.

“What?”

“Trick or treat,” he said.

“I don’t understand,” I replied.

My husband smiled and repeated the phrase, with emphasis on “treat.” Then it hit me. Marley connected the word with doggy biscuits. The entire evening he must have felt the victim of a cruel prank, hearing the word over and over and watching youngsters run off with booty. His booty.

I turned toward the house. Marley’s face pressed against the glass. I went inside, grabbed some biscuits, asked Marley to sit and presented the coveted reward. Outside, skeletons and pirates paraded across the yard. They yelled the magic phrase and Marley’s ears lifted.

So every crisp, Midwest October, our former, overzealous Halloween helper spent the evening indoors on his doggy bed, waiting like Scrooge at Christmas, for the unjust holiday to pass him by.

~Lisa Mackinder

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