The Little Wooden Dog

Alice and Max lived with their mother Margo, in a small Austrian village in the mountains and had lost their father to an accident when they were very small children and lived with their mother who was a seamstress and made all of their clothes because they had very little money to live on. They lived in a small cottage in a little hamlet called Wednesdayburg on the slopes of mount Ludivik which was named after one of the old Austrian Kings of long ago. Alice was now seven and Max was six years old and they always wanted a little dog of their own but their mother was unable to afford a real one because they only had enough money to live on as they lived quite a meagre existence as it was. So the children amused themselves as best they could and played with the other children in the village when they were not at school which was lower down the mountain.

One of their neighbours, a man called Alexis who was now getting on a bit and lived on his own but had always been a family friend and lived just a short way away on the edge of the village making his living working in the woods chopping down trees that would be used for firewood during the winter and he also made wooden toys and puzzles for the children at Christmas which was always celebrated in style in the village which all the children enjoyed. Christmas was coming and the children were excited as usual but they knew that their mother had very little money coming in from her occasional sewing she did around the village and taking in the odd lodger for a short while quite often through the skiing season. So Christmas would be a magical time as the love they shared with their mother, made up for any lack of presents.

Alexis would always look out for Margo and her children sometimes when she went out the back door of their little cottage she would find wood for the fire and the occasional item of food to help her through the week and even though she did not like to take it she had no choice so was grateful for whoever left it there but she assumed it was Alexis who she also had feelings for but was unable to tell him for fear of rejection.             

Alexis had known that the children always wanted a dog but that the family would struggle to feed due to their circumstances so he decided to make them a wooden one so he set about finding a big enough part of a tree in the forest that would suit his needs. Finding what he required he put it onto his cart and pulled it back to his workshop at the back of his cottage so that he could begin carving out what he required, a head, body, tail that would wag and four legs, ears that would flap and the eyes and teeth he would make out of flint from the mountain which he could mould on his workshop anvil. So he set about making the children’s toy determined to complete it in time for Christmas and as he looked out the window he could see it was beginning to snow so everything was beginning to fall into place for a magical Christmas.

Alice and Max were helping their mother in the home but became excited when they saw the snow falling outside and asked their mother if they could go outside and play in it. Ok said their mother but don’t be too long and don’t go too far because it will be dinner time soon. Alice and max put on their winter coats so as to keep warm as they frolicked about in the snow which was by now laying quite rapidly and soon they were joined by other children in the village and were soon throwing snowballs at each other and having a jolly good time. While all this was going on Alexis was working on his wooden dog and had chosen a big enough piece of wood to make the body so he began to carve it into shape so he could attach the legs as soon as they were carved as well. It would take him about three days in all and with Christmas day being only six days away he had to be sure it would be finished on time. Working day and night Alexis gradually finished the dog’s body complete with legs and a tail and was very happy with what he had achieved so far. The legs were moveable along with the paws on the end and everything moved when you pushed him along so now Alexis began to make the head which he knew would be harder as he needed to make its eyes and teeth from the granite he had collected so he set to work at once as time was running short.    

He placed the granite in a vice and began to chip away constantly making the eyes which sparkled and seem to look at him whilst he finalised their construction and once finished he began to make all the teeth which he would put into the dogs mouth once he had carved them. It was painstaking work but he knew it would be worthwhile just to see the children’s faces once everything was completed and they could take their dog for a walk. He needs a name thought Alexis and because he was chipping away whilst he was carving he decided to name his new creation Chip which he hoped the children would like and set about completing the work in hand on the teeth and would then be ready to carve out a head to complete the job.

Creating the head was the most difficult part and his lathe was working overtime in trying to produce the perfect match to go with the rest of the dog’s body. He gave it a nice open mouth so that the teeth could be seen glistening as he seemed to smile hello and make the sockets for the eyes to be placed into so they sparkled brightly once inserted. He shaped the head just the way most dogs heads are and once finished he stepped back to admire his work, Oh dear I have forgotten his ears laughed Alexis so he set about making two flexible ears that would hang down by the side of his face so as to complete the job in hand. Now all he had to do was put all the pieces together and make sure it was all free enough to so that it all moved as it should. With a nice coat of lacquer to bring Chips coat to life showing all the waves Alexis had created whist carving everything out all looked perfect as Chip was put onto the workbench for Alexis to decide if any alterations were needed? At last the wooden dog was finished so Alexis began wrapping him up so that it would be ready for Alice and Max to receive for their Christmas present and so off he went to their house to deliver his finished creation. He just hoped they would like it as much as he did even though he was the one who made it. The Snow was now falling heavily and was lying quite thick on the ground and everywhere was covered by the white blanket on the ground and the lights in the village were shining brightly this Christmas Eve.


On Christmas day Alice and Max rose early so as to open their presents that their mother had managed to buy for them which they greatly appreciated knowing how hard it was for her to save the money throughout the year and how hard she had worked for it. They loved to see the smile on Margo’s face when she opened her presents from them which they had saved from their pocket money and money they had made collecting wood from the forest for other people in the village. They had breakfast and then Margo gave them the present from Alexis which was all wrapped up in coloured paper which they tore open, be careful she said otherwise you might break it as the children looked on in amazement at their present which was like the dog they had always wanted. Look said Alice, he has ears and a tail which caused Margo to laugh, all dogs have those said Max as he put the collar provided onto their new addition to the family. Pull him along said Margo and see if he moves so Max tugged on the lead and Chip began to walk, wobbling from side to side as his legs began to move and his head bobbed up and down. His eyes sparkled as if to show how happy he was and his tail moved from side to side as he ambled along with Max’s help. Chip’s coat was shiny and looked real and both children took turns to give him a cuddle just to let him know how much he was loved and Margo could have sworn she saw his lips move into what resembled a smile but thought that’s impossible, he’s made of wood and decided it was time for breakfast as Alexis was coming to spend Christmas with them so they were all looking forward to a great Christmas Day and there was a service at ten o’clock in the village church to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus which after all was what the day was really about. Alice and Max played with their other toys until Alexis arrived in time for them all to go off to the Christmas service and Chip was left indoors with a Teddy Bear and a Doll for company all three left under the Christmas tree.

As they walked into the village Alexis asked Alice and Max if they liked their new friend and they both said yes and thanked him for making it and Alexis laughed and said he is a very special dog, he will only perform when you are alone, always remember that.

 The two children looked bewildered and asked what he meant to which Alexis replied, just wait and see when you take him for a walk. So that had both Alice and Max mystified throughout the Carol Service in which they both played a part in the nativity play along with other children in the village. When the service was over they all made their way back to their home for Christmas dinner and Margo and Alexis made the most of their time together and seeing how happy their mother was pleased the two children no end. Can we take Chip for a walk said Alice to her mother while you get the dinner ready, we will be out of your way then, not keep interrupting, like we always do. Ok her mother said but don’t be too long and don’t go too far or you will be late for dinner. Ok said Alice and Max put the lead on their little wooden dog and walked off out into the snow, pulling Chip along behind them as one or two of the children they passed laughed and made fun of Chip being as he was only wooden but they did not care and made their way into the forest buy the pathway that ran behind their village and as they walked Max picked up a stick to hit the branches of the trees so that the snow fell onto Alice’s head which annoyed her a lot so she threw a snowball at |Max and hit him on the head, ouch he shouted, that hurt  but suddenly Alice cried out look at Chip, his head is moving and his tail is wagging, it’s as though he wants you to throw a stick for him to chase. Don’t be silly said Max he’s only a wooden dog his legs will not move sufficiently enough for that to happen. Throw the stick Max said Alice just for fun, ok said Max and he threw the stick as far as he could and both the children were sum-struck as Chip turned and ran after it, his legs going ten to the dozen, barking as he ran, his tail going round like a windmill. When he got to the stick his mouth opened, he picked it up out of the snow and he ran back to the children and dropped the stick at their feet. They were astonished.  That’s what Alexis meant when he said chip was different said Alice and Max agreed and they spent the next half an hour playing with Chip, chasing him, throwing more sticks and rolling about in the snow with him until it was time to return home for dinner.


When they got home Alexis asked them if they enjoyed their walk with Chip and smiled at them as if to say I told you so but both Alice and Max just put Chip in his basket and prepared for their Christmas meal which was almost ready. Margo remarked that Chip looked worn out, you must have pulled him to fast she jokingly said blissfully unaware what had really happened and neither Alexis or the children said a word. Was it a reality or just a dream, would Alice and Max wake up or do dreams really come true and because you want something badly enough it will happen. Alice and Max must think so.