Vera had grown since the tzus had last seen her, she wouldn’t be fully grown until she was 15 but still, she was big compared to them and everyone laughed and cheered as she picked up her little friends in her trunk and raised them above her head!
Maisie, Paddy and Stan screamed playfully as she bounced them up and down.
“I’m gonna be sick…” shouted Paddy.
“Untrunk us Vera…” laughed Maisie, waving to Beth on the ground, desperate to be picked up by an elephant trunk like her big sister.
She placed the three of them carefully on the floor and Stan hugged her tight around her knee.
“I can’t believe you’re actually here,” he said, stepping back and looking in to her eyes. Maybe the whole Angel King Wolfgang thing had been a daydream but he knew, in his heart, that it really was down to him – and him alone – that Vera was rescued last year. He had spotted her and convinced Santa Paws to set down and look for the grey creature he saw in the war-torn abandoned zoo. Without him, she would have been captured by the bad men they had heard.
“Stan, Stan,” Vera hugged him back, sensing he was upset, “I love it at Santa Paws Land. Embry looks after me as if I was her own puppyphant and I get fabulous food. My little outbuilding is so warm and cosy and…I have a job! I am the Christmas Elephant and I help Pixie and every fur with lifting and packing. That’s why I am here today, I am going to help you load the presents on to the sleigh!”
“Oh Vera, I am so proud! Well, the gifts are all stacked up in the Party Room. We should get to work! I have done a spread and there are jam sandwiches and iced buns – you’ll like them!”
Maisie coughed to get everyone’s attention.
“Come on pals. The sooner we get packing, the sooner we can all enjoy the spread and I have to show Santa Paws around Tzu Library first!”
She skipped inside and everyone followed.
Coffee looked on, little Maisie was amazing.
“See you in a bit Santa Paws Shay. Enjoy your private dinner,” Binky said as he followed the tzus to collect the presents.
“Oh, Binky, I forgot to brief you on something…” Shay yelled, running after him.
Pixie turned to the royal couple, she had just been to the sleigh and returned wheeling a crate of pretty gifts decorated with ribbons.
“These are from Embry from every fur at Santa Paws Land, plenty of fun things to share.”
“Now, you two must visit in the spring. Shay’s time as Santa is coming to its natural end and he so wants to entertain you two before he retires and becomes ‘Santa Paws Emeritus’. He’s asked Embry to redecorate the guest wing for you and it’s going to look gorgeous. He wants to show you around the ice palace and show you all he’s done, then he said, ice skating, s’mores on his balcony and a flight!”
Coffee looked at Bailey. She didn’t ask, but her eyes lowered. Santa Paws Land was a winter wonderland and, being Canadian, she loved the snow and so wanted to see the incredible ice palace but there was always so much to do in Tzu Kingdom. Bailey knew just what to do, once again.
“We would love to come Pixie, please tell Shay and Embry to book us in for the first weekend in April!”
Coffee squealed and kissed her husband, then hugged Pixie excitedly.
Santa Paws Shay re-joined them to the news that he would soon have visitors.
“Oh, how marvellous. Roh Roh Roh, we had better get some heated blankets and warm mittens in for you Bailey, you’re not one for the cold!” he laughed. He really wasn’t! Coffee was perfectly at home running through snow, he preferred to watch a winter wonderland from inside, or on the TV.
“Well, I think it’s dinner time, via Tzu Library,” Coffee announced. Pixie scampered off to help with the presents and the three rulers of two important dog worlds went to enjoy a sublime dinner - not as heads of state, but as friends, paws reaching across lands, all working and striving for a better world.