The bustle and rush of the holidays were done and Doodle Dog was excited for the brand new year full of days to enjoy, chances to play, people to meet, and adventures to be had. He knew the children would be going back to school soon and downtown was growing quieter and not as crowded since the hurrying holiday shoppers were now in their homes, surely resting after the flurry of the season!

Snow still covered the ground, and Doodle Dog’s paws left little prints behind him as he walked down the street. He could see the tracks from all the other animals that had gone that way already. Doodle Dog followed the trail, looking at each print the different creatures made. There were skinny V-shaped ones where a bird had walked, long thin oval ones in pairs where a rabbit had hopped along, square indents from hooves that must have been from Santa’s Reindeer, and ones that looked just like his own but much, much bigger. He wouldn’t want to run into the owner of those giant paw prints! Mixed in with all of them were also human tracks, each one as different as the many animal ones: some were heavy and solid, probably from thick winter boots, some were tiny and pointy from a woman’s high heels, and some were made by smaller feet with pretty designs left in the fluffy white dust from the tread of a child’s sneaker.

As Doodle Dog roamed, he took the time to smell the freshness of the air, clean and cold from the recent snowfall. He could hear the rustle of the bare branches in the trees, swaying without their usual leaves, and the tinkling of the frozen icicles hanging from a nearby roof. The more they glistened in the sun, the more they seemed to ping like tiny bells. Blending with the quiet sounds, excited voices floated on the air. Doodle Dog’s ears perked up to listen to what they were: he was nearing a playground and could see children running and jumping. He watched from a distance until a little boy who was swinging alone on the monkey bars caught sight of the cute puppy with floppy ears sitting at the edge of the park.

The boy slowly approached Doodle Dog so as not to frighten him, and Doodle Dog happily wagged his tail as the boy made his way over. The little dog ran around the little boy’s legs, curiously sniffing the air around this new friend. The boy laughed and tugged gently on Doodle Dog’s tail to get him to slow down! Doodle Dog stopped his circling and gently tugged on the boy’s long, colorful scarf in return. The boy turned around and around trying to get loose and Doodle Dog playfully followed him, which only made the boy’s smile even wider.

Finally, Doodle Dog let go and the little boy dropped down, landing on the soft powder. He plopped flat on his back and started moving his arms and legs to make a circle on the ground. When he stood up there was a beautiful pattern where he had been. A snow angel! That looked like fun ~ Doodle Dog wanted to try, too! So he dropped down and rolled in the snow like the little boy was doing. He jumped up and looked back at his work. It was a perfectly crafted snow…ball? He tried again. This time his tail made an imprint that looked like a Christmas bell with its clapper. Or a snow…pancake? Snow….dog? Hmmm…

Doodle Dog’s usually brown coat was now white with the snowflakes from the ground. As he stood up and shook his fur, he noticed the little boy gathering snow in his hands. It looked like he was making sand castles on the chilly white beach that was the playground. Not a castle ~ it was a little doghouse! And next to the house was a long, thin snow log with two snowballs at one end and two snowballs at the other. Doodle Dog scampered over to the snowbone the little boy had made for him and took a big bite. His teeth went right through the lightly packed fluff and it was COLD! Brrrrr!

At that moment a man with a kind smile appeared from the other side of the park. He had the same nose and eyes as the little boy and softly called out to them. The little boy brushed off his pants, waved to Doodle Dog, and hurried to meet the man. It was time for Doodle Dog to find his way home, too.

Once in the office door he wound up tracking in wet snow prints across the floor. They would dry before anyone could step in them! When Doodle Dog reached the fireplace, he found a real chewy bone waiting for him on the hearth. As he curled up in his bed, Doodle Dog thought of his new friend from the park. He hoped to see him again!