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Higgins at Christmas

Higgins, the Welsh Terrier,  is back for our young readers.  We first met Higgins in My Name is Higgins in August, 2010.   

Alexandria, VA - I know I'm only a year old, but if I was a human kid I'd be seven. So I know about Christmas and Santa Claus. I'm looking forward to shaking out my stocking on Christmas morning. My family is getting ready too. They groomed me last week so my hair is short again like it was last summer at the river. Supposedly that's the way Santa likes it and if it gets me a bigger bone, or more of those cheesy dog cookies then I'm willing to put up with it. I just don't want to be made to wear a red bow or bells or antlers on my head.

Another reason I like Christmas is that it means it's only a while longer until spring when we can go back to the island where I can run, hunt, and lay in the sun. We have a river down here too but people and dogs don't play in it much, because the people are always busy working. I spend my days curled up under my human's computer table, while he works, sleeping and dreaming about returning to the St. Lawrence River. I have the same dream almost every day.

I'm patrolling the shoreline early in the morning when a big catfish sticks his head out of the water and asks me what I'm doing in his river. His whiskers are long and he looks old, maybe as old as ten, or more. "Your river," I bark, "what are you doing sneaking up on our island?"

He slaps his fins on the top of the water and splashes me and says, "I have been swimming around this island for 80 years and I have never seen you here until last summer. I didn't see you in the fall and I didn't see you in the winter. Even though I could see the island from underneath the ice. What makes you think this is now your island? Don't you know about riparian rights?"

In my sleep I think I can hear the phone ringing, but the dream is very good and I don't want to leave it right now, because the catfish smells stinky good and I would like to catch him if I can. I'm worried about those whiskers though because they look like they can sting. I have found that anything that sticks out with a barb on the end of it should usually be avoided.

My dream continues as the sound of my owner's keyboard lulls me deeper into sleep. I roll over on my back with my legs in the air and my mouth open. "Look catfish," I say, as I edge a few inches into the cold water showing my sharp teeth,"I don't know what riparian rights are but I know this river is big enough for the both of us and since I don't like to swim and you can't walk why don't we just share?"

"You are very wise for such a little one," the old catfish says. "You must be a Welsh Terrier, one of the craftiest dogs of the landed world."

"I am indeed," I tell him, as he swims in a quick circle and comes back to shore.

"Well, little Welshman, we can share. You can patrol the island from land and I will patrol from the water. You protect me from the minks and I will protect you from the beaver under your dock."

At first I was afraid of the old catfish, but now he is my friend and I will spend the rest of the winter thinking about seeing him for real when we go back to the river. In the meantime, I imagine him swimming slowly beneath the ice waiting for the warm spring sun to melt the bays and the little icebergs to let the St. Lawrence River run free again.

Just as my dream is coming to an end I hear a loud whooshing noise. I wake up and see that the vacuum cleaner has grabbed my owner's hand and is pulling him around the room again. I bark and bite at the noisy machine, but it does not stop until it has pulled him over every carpet in the house. You can always make friends with a whiskered catfish, but vacuum cleaners always lurk in the closet waiting for their chance to eat the crumbs under the dining room table and on the kitchen floor. That's how I see it anyway. Any Terrier must stand his ground against the vacuum. It is my winter work and it is very important.

Merry Christmas. 

By Higgins; with typing assistance from Dean Pagani.


Dean Pagani is a public relations consultant who lives in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife Kate Kiernan and their dog Higgins. During the summer they vacation on Butts Island off Ivy Lea where Higgins spent his first summer in 2010.

Posted in: Nature, Fiction
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Vivien Levermore
Comment by: Vivien Levermore ( )
Left at: 10:47 AM Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Love it, reminds me of my daughter, Rachel's, little Yorkie named Clark, he loves flying all the way from LA to visit the St Lawrence River, chase squirrels and roll in the grass.
Mike Milne
Comment by: Mike Milne ( )
Left at: 8:47 PM Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Higgins sounds like my kind of boy! Good boy!

I hope you have a nice winter and will soon be back to the River & your friends stinky and others; as will I!

Merry Christmas I know Santa will be good to you he has a soft spot for good dogs! Are you sure you didn't chew anything this year?

Wishing you many good belly rubs and good dreams down south. Have a nice winter you deserve it my friend you have a tough life!!

Sarah Dumont-Merchak
Comment by: Sarah Dumont-Merchak ( )
Left at: 8:51 PM Monday, December 27, 2010
So cute - I'm currently researching Butts Island, as it sounds perfect for a summer trip with our sweet rescue dog, Lander. He loves splashing and running around in the water too.