The littlest angel was in trouble.  Here it was almost Christmas and somehow, like so many times in the past she had a big problem.  It wasn't her fault really, she had tried to do her best, but even in heaven, sometimes there are problems you have to deal with.

It all started with the preparations for Christmas.  This was a special time of year, especially in heaven. Everyone worked so hard because this was the birthday of Jesus and each and every angel had a part in the great celebration.  There were so many things to get ready and they all had their jobs to do.

For the littlest angel, there was one special job that she enjoyed.  Every year, just before Christmas, all the angels from the Heavenly Chorus came to her to have their halos polished.  These angels were responsible for allthe wonderful music that filled heaven on Christmas day, and they wanted to look their best. They would stop at the littlest angel's cloud and drop off their halos. She would be left with a huge pile of dull and somewhat dingy halos. The littlest angel would spend days before Christmas cleaning and polishing the halos until their reflections filled her little part of heaven with a warm golden glow. When the halos were all returned to the Heavenly Chorus their light was as bright as all the stars in the winter sky.


This job had always been something she did well and enjoyed, but this year was different. It seems that some of the other little angels were really more like imps than angels. They thought it was fun to grab someone's halo and throw it away like an earthly Frisbee. No one seemed to mind very much, and the halos always came back to the owners in a few days. But this year, these imps had taken all of the halos that the littlest angel was working on. The halos were now part of a gigantic game of Frisbee catch that was going on all over heaven, but mostly out of sight of the bigger angels.

The littlest angel tried her best to get the halos back. She ran after the others, but she was not fast enough. She jumped to catch the halos, but she couldn't go high enough. She called to them and asked for her halos back but no one seemed to hear her. The imps just laughed and continued their game.

Now it was only a few days till Christmas and none of the halos were polished yet! Some of the Heavenly Chorus had come by to ask for their halos back, but the littlest angel pretended she was still working on them. But time was running out. She needed to get those halos back before it was too late to make sure that they were all polished before the big day. What could she do to get them back? How could she stop this silly game and get her work done in time? She knew this was her job and she couldn't ask someone else to it, but she needed help. Maybe, even in heaven, it was time for a little prayer.


The red dog woke slowly.  She lay for a while with her eyes closed and tried to remember where she was.  She seemed to remember a lot of pain.  She remembered how her body had hurt all over, and how she had struggled all day for each breath.  She remembered how her steps had been slow and painful whenever  she moved, and how most days it was easier to just lie for a while until she had to get up.

But she also remembered that she was loved.  Her family had always been there to look after her. They made sure she had a soft warm bed and good food to eat, even when her appetite was gone and she grew thin and ragged.  She realized that just before she last went to sleep, she could remember being held by the family she loved.  They had seemed very sad, but the red dog didn't know why.  She was happy just because they were there with her.


That thought was enough to make her want to open her eyes and find her family.  Stretching carefully, she rolled over and opened her eyes, but her family wasn't there.  In fact, she was in a very different place from any she had ever known.

Everything around her looked somehow different.  The sky was brighter than she remembered through her age dimmed eyes.  The smells were clean and exciting with subtle hints of forests and fields and life!  It was as though this whole place was full of wonder and happiness.  The red dog looked around her in awe, and filled her lungs with the wonderful smells of this place.  When she breathed, she found there was no pain, no shortness of breath.  When she stood up, there was no stiffness in her joints.  She felt as alive and happy as this place seemed to be.  She wanted to run and jump and play like the puppy she was a long time ago. And then she saw the little angel.

Off to one side, sat the littlest angel, unaware that she suddenly had company.  Her head was in her hands and her sad sighs rolled across the nearby landscape like little dark patches of summertime rain clouds.  The red dog didn’t know who this person was. The smell was unusual, but she understood the tone of sadness that came to her.  Whoever this person was, the red dog knew what to do.  She knew that it was time to make a friend and to help someone feel better.  With a wag of her tail that swayed her whole body, with her head held low in a happy friendly way, she pranced toward the littlest angel.  At the same time she spoke her happy, red dog greeting, a rumbling, tenor “Rowwwff” that was her way of saying “Hello friend”.

The littlest angel was lost in her own sadness when suddenly she felt a cold wet nose bump her elbow.  With a shout and a jump of surprise she turned to see who was there.  Wiggling under her arm by now, the red dog squirmed happily against the little angel.  Her whole body spoke a greeting of friendship and happiness just to be there.  For a moment the little angel was almost afraid.  She barely remembered dogs from her short time on earth, and she had never been very comfortable with them.  As well, she had never seen one in heaven before.  But in spite of her hesitation, the red dog wiggled and wagged her welcome.  Before she knew it the littlest angel was hugging and petting this wonderful new friend.  Every time she stopped playing with the red dog, that cold nose was right back, bumping for more attention.  Eventually, they both calmed down.  The red dog was now content to just lie beside her new friend and enjoy the smells, sounds and sights of this new place.  And the littlest angel was glad to have a new friend.  A friend who didn’t seem to care that she was so small; a friend who didn’t care that she wasn't a clean and tidy little angel.  The red dog liked her just for what she was.


But soon the sadness came back to the littlest angel.  She remembered about all the missing halos and wondered again how she would ever get them back in time to be ready for Christmas.  Well, the older angels always told her not to give up easily.  Maybe she should try just once more to get those halos back.  If she could just run a little faster, or jump a little higher, she might succeed.  Wearily she got up and started to trudge away in search of the missing halos.

To her surprise, the red dog jumped up and followed, brushing past her legs, tangling her robe and almost tripping her in her enthusiasm.  At first she tried to shoo the red dog away, but then she realized she liked the company, and off they went together.  They hunted through the clouds until they heard the sounds of laughter and mischief.  Carefully peeking around the edge of a large cloud, the littlest angel saw the missing halos.  A group of angels who were small, but all of them bigger than her, were still busy with their game of Frisbee catch.  The halos that should have been polished and gleaming by now were being thrown about from angel to angel with great abandon.

Amid shrieks and giggles, the halos flew.  Some times they were caught skilfully.  Other times they bounced off clouds and rolled in the dust that collected even in the corners of Heaven.  The littlest angel knew she needed to get those halos back.  She was determined to try her hardest right now.

Waiting until one of the halos rolled to a stop nearby, she dashed out from cover and made a desperate grab.  With luck, she was in the right spot to reach the halo and scoop it up.  She stood holding the halo in triumph, knowing that if she could get one, then she might get the rest.

But the bigger angels were ready for her.  One swooped in behind her as she was stood there, and snatched it away from her.  Then, tossing the halo from one to the other, they scampered away across the clouds, keeping just out of reach of the littlest angel.  Finally defeated, she sank to the ground and watched as her halos, the ones she should have been polishing for the Heavenly Chorus, were tossed about the sky in a careless and unthinking way.

As she sat there, she realized that the red dog was beside her again.  But now, instead of wanting to be petted and hugged, the red dog stood poised and focused.  She was focused on the flying halos.  Every part of her body was tense and pointing toward the flying circles and she quivered slightly as if in great anticipation.


The littlest angel did not understand what was happening.  The red dog did not have a halo yet; sometimes it took a while before they got around to giving them out.  So the littlest angel thought that the red dog was looking for a halo of her own.  She turned to the red dog and said,  “You’ll just have to wait for your own halo, If I couldn't get it, you won't be able to get it.”

When the red dog heard “Get it” for the second time she did not hesitate any longer.  She loved Frisbees, and she loved to catch them.  In a flash she was away after the other little angels.  So fast she ran that she almost flew, and her silky red coat waved in the wind of her running.  One of the halos flew through the air, and with a graceful leap she plucked it from the sky.  She landed, ran a few feet and then stood with her head held high.  The halo was in her mouth and an expression of pride and satisfaction was in her eye.

The nearest angels all stopped in surprise.  They had never seen a dog in Heaven before, and here was one that had just stolen their Frisbee.  A pair of the angels swooped in and grabbed for the halo.  The red dog stood her ground until the last second. Then she pivoted, leaned to the side and in a flash she was gone, racing back to the side of the littlest angel.

It was the answer to a prayer.


Without hesitation, the littlest angel took the returned halo and pointed at the ongoing game before them.  “Get it” she cried, and again the red dog was away in a flash of golden red fur.  Like a jet of fire, she raced off after the flying halos.  Even when she had been old and sick, this had still been her passion.  Even when it had hurt to run and hurt to jump and when it really hurt to fall or bump into another dog, she still loved to chase the Frisbee.
And so the pile of halos beside the littlest angel grew quickly.  Each time a halo was thrown, this red dog seemed to appear out of nowhere.  She leaped, she ran,  she caught.  And each time she did, she trotted back to the littlest angel and dropped the halo by her.  So startling was this almost magical beast that had stopped their game, that the other angels were afraid to come near.  And two of them actually ran to get help.

Soon the red dog had caught the last of the stolen halos.  The littlest angel stood guarding her pile, but the others were gathering around.  They wanted those halos back and they not only vastly outnumbered the red dog and her friend, they were all bigger and stronger.  The littlest angel tried to reason with them.  “These halos belong to the Heavenly Chorus,” she said.  “I have to polish them all before Christmas and I can’t do that if you keep throwing them around.”  But the other angels didn’t seem to care.  Finally getting over their fear of the beautiful red dog, they moved in to take back the halos. But suddenly a shadow fell over the group.


There stood the Gatekeeper, a large and impressive angel with an angry look on his face.  The two little angels by his side said, “There is that awful beast and the naughty littlest angel.  They have taken all those halos from us.  Throw that beast out of Heaven before someone gets hurt!”  The Gatekeeper leaned over the red dog and the littlest angel and scowled down at them.  The littlest angel was so upset she was almost in tears, and could not speak.  The red dog looked up cautiously, but wagged her tail and spoke for herself.  “Rowwwff” she said.

Suddenly, the Gatekeeper laughed.  “They certainly do have a collection of halos there.” He said.  “And if I'm not mistaken, those are the halos of the Heavenly Chorus.  This littlest angel has always done a terrific job of shining up those halos for Christmas Eve, but she seems to be a bit behind schedule this year.” He looked at the rest of the angels and in his very official Gatekeeper voice he said, “I want to thank all of you for coming here to help this littlest angel with her most important job.  We only have a few hours to get everything ready, so all of you need to get to work right now.”  And turning back to the littlest angel, he continued, “And because you are so good at this job, I am putting you in charge to make sure everything is done properly.  Anyone who doesn't do their job right will have to answer to me.”
With that he turned to go, but then he paused and looked back.

“Red dog… come here!” he ordered, and without hesitation, the red dog strode up to the Gatekeeper.  The large and powerful hand reached out for the red dog, and… ever so gently stroked the soft fur.  In a quiet voice now he spoke to her.  “Welcome old girl, welcome.  I know you miss your family, and they miss you, but they understand.  They know you were needed here.”

And that Christmas, as many before, the Heavenly Chorus sang to the glory of God and the baby Jesus.  The music filled Heaven with a wondrous sound, and the light from the gleaming halos was as bright as all the stars in the winter sky.  From her spot on a nearby rise, the littlest angel watched happily.  After all the problems everything had worked out just fine, and she now had a new friend.  At her side was the red dog.  As they listened to the music together, the red dog gently nudged the littlest angel's elbow and was rewarded with a hug and a pat on the head.  Red dog looked up happily and said, “Rowwwff’

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