Ashley Wants a Coat for Christmas!

I can usually tell when something is bothering the mutt, Ashley. I have been sharing a home with her for a number of years and her feelings are often transparent, however this day she seemed to somewhat of a puzzle. She had been looking out of the living room window for some time, her head moving back and forth as if she were watching a squirrel or bird in the front yard, but rather than sqealing with fascination and glee, she was whining with unhappiness and displeasure.
"What's wrong with Ashley?" meowed Helen. "She looks as if she had buried her best friend, not that she has any friends she could bury."
"Why don't you ask her?" I replied. "She's not on barking terms with me today."
Neither of us asked Ashley what was causing her such distress but Sidney who is another housemate of ours joined us in the computer room. He seemed a bit upset. "Ashley is very depressed because of Paige," he announced. Paige is a large, black dog who lives just a block from our house. "Ashley was looking out of the window yesterday and saw Paige prancing about like a fashion model. It seems she was wearing a new coat she had just gotten and wanted Ashley to see it. You can imagine how Ashley must feel, especially since she doesn't like Paige very much...."
"Now what do we do," growled Tonya. "Ashley is bad enough to live with when she is more or less normal, but as a depressed dog, she will be impossible. That constant whining is very difficult for me, who is a cat of refinement and sensitivity, to deal with on a constant basis."
Helen returned to the computer room dragging a flyer from one of he local pet stores. "I found some dog coats advertised here," she announced. "Perhaps she would like something like this one." She placed her paw on one of the pictures. "It has a fake fur collar."
Carefully, we studied the photographs of dog coats and made a list of those we cats thought were attractive. We couldn't make up our minds. We then decided to take a collective nap to refresh our minds.
Some time later, I heard scratching at the computer room window. I looked out and saw Raymond Hazelwitz, rodent activist and my feline buddy, Clarence of Belden, standing in the snow. "Open the back door, Henri!" demanded Clarence. "Raymond and I are getting cold feet!" Quickly, I rushed into the kitchen and unlatched the door. A shivering rat and cat stumbled onto the tile floor. Helen came into the room and offered Raymond some dried corn kernels and Clarence a plate of cat food.
"Well what brings you guys out in this weather?" I asked of our guests.
"Samantha, the new dog a few doors down the street told us that Ashley is very depressed," explained Raymond. "She said that Ashley had been barking with her through the backyard fence, but couldn't be sure what her problem was because she was so emotional about it, we decided to drop by and find out."
Carefully I explained about Ashley seeing Paige, the dog who lives in the corner house, wearing a new winter coat and her desire to own a new coat too. Clarence shook his head, smoothed his whiskers and washed his ears. "Ashley doesn't need a winter coat," he meowed. "Her coat is very heavy and will protect her very well from the cold. I'm sure, Raymond here will agree with me."
Raymond swallowed a mouthful of corn and nodded. "I do agree with Clarence," chattered Raymond, "but given Ashley's penchant for melodrama, it would be best to find a coat substitute for the neurotic pooch." The rat scanned the room carefully, his gaze stopping at a rack of clothes hooks. "Give me a minute with the dog, you guys, and I will make the transformation!"
So what could we do, but leave Ashley and Raymond alone in the bedroom. The rat gathered up a pile of clothing which included hats and scarves. Within an hour and a half, after much barking and joyful squealing, the bedroom door opened and Ashley appeared.


"I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT! I JUST LOVE IT!" gushed Ashley.


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