It was hot outside of Dog Hotel. So hot that dogs couldn’tin walk on the asphalt without burning their paw pads.
Inside of Dog Hotel, of course, the air was plush with air conditioned coolness.
And so, the lobby of Dog Hotel was opened to any and all who needed respite from the heat.
Immediately, the hotel lobby ice cream counter sales increased by 72%. Dogs love ice cream! The most popular ice cream flavors offered at Sammy Shnauzer’s Creamery were Beefy Chunky Klunkey, Chicken Licken’s Feathers, Carrot Stick Swirley, and Chase That Cat Candy.
Sammy is a business whiz. He sees the potential for a customer contest when it presents itself. So, with the lobby in a state of dog-pile-up, he put out signs and flyers that offered a prize for whomever could come up with the new best, most perfect summer ice cream flavor.
Max, the Dog Hotel Security Shep, put in his entry first. His concoction was that of a chicken gravy swirl in vanilla ice cream, embedded with rotissere roasted chicken shreds and carrot cubes.
Mrs. Ongodden, a poodle with a flowery broadrimmed hat, entered her recipe for a lamb stew pastie hidden in the middle of the scoop of vanilla.
Rory, the paper delivery boy terrier, suggested a thick beef gravy dip for the cone, frozen into a crust over the scoop of vanilla.
And Professor Field and Stream — who was a mix of untold heritage but certainly one of good repute — put in his bid for a tuna ice, sprinkled with bits of turkey bacon.
Speaking of bacon, news came down from the groomer across the street to please make the waffle cone out of bacon and stop using soy.
Everyone got to work. A tall order, to whip all the flavor sample scoops. Chef Fifi opened his kitchen and everyone pitched in to make their ice cream flavor.
The kitchen was a mess, and all paws and ears were sticky with the drips and melts that came up during the fixing of these scoops. All the flavor entries were made.
Then came time for the vote.
Dogs came from far and wide — and even a few stray cats — to sample the entry flavors. It was a grand day that not only cooled everyone down in the high heat, but one of togetherness that would have made the Countessa very proud indeed.
Who do you think was the winner?
An unlikely entry had been made, but hardly noticed at all. And yet, this flavor won paws down!
When the announcement was made, and the applause quietted down, there was silence in the lobby. And stillness. Because nobody knew who the dog was who had entered this winning ice cream flavor. Yet it was so special and exquisite everyone wanted to know who it was.
All dogs looked around for the appearance of the winner. Max stood up and again, invited the entrant to come forward and be celbrated for his victory.
And from the back door, the back door that went into the alley where the garbage cans were kept, hobbled in a three legged mutt. An alley dog. A homeless scrapper dog. Three legs and eyes set downward towards the floor.
He hobbled up to the front of the lobby and murmered his thanks. He accepted his bag of chew bones and a year’s worth of hotel dinners as his prize.
When Max asked him what the secret was to his winning recipe, he said, “The scoop of ice cream flavor I put in was vanilla. Just plain vanilla. But it was a really good vanilla. Probably because, set beside all the fancy flavors, a plain and reasonable vanilla rises to the top.”
Thank you! And remember, you can make pet food donations at your local food banks, as well as to The Pongo Fund in Portland, Oregon. — Heidi Hansen (c2013-2015) firstname.lastname@example.org.