Happy Howl-o-wiener!

A week later, I heard the sisters talking about getting costumes for something at school.  Hey, don’t you have enough princess dresses around here?  Where would Mama put more costumes, since your princess trunk is bursting at the seams now!
I was in the playroom with them after supper when Mama came in.  Annika asked, “Mama, what can I be for Halloween?  My teacher said we could dress up for our party at school, but I don’t have anything yet to wear.”
“Me, too,” added Alexa.  “Can we get something new and not have to wear one of our old princess dresses?  Oh, we like them,” she quickly added, “but it would be so fun to have a something different to wear.”
“Since you mentioned it, girls, I was planning on getting you new costumes—and Asher, too—but I haven’t done so yet.  Don’t worry—you know I can pick out something you’ll like, and I kinda wanted to surprise you.  Our church is having that fall festival in a few weeks, too, and everyone in the community is invited.  Daddy says that’s a good way to reach people for the Lord who don’t usually go to church.” 
“You mean we get to have a party at school AND a party at church?” squealed Alexa, who looked thrilled.  “What will we do at the church party?”
“It’s a fall festival, not just a party.  A festival committee has been planning it for months—Daddy has gone to their meetings, and although I don’t know the exact details myself, I’ve been to many of these over the years.  All of  you will love it:  they’ll have lots of things children will enjoy, like a beanbag throw, apple dunking, a cake walk, face painting, a couple of those big inflatable things where you can go inside and jump like you’re on a trampoline—”
“Oh boy, I love those trampoline things!” exclaimed Annika.  “What else?”
Mama continued:  “Hmmm.  Let’s see—oh yes.  A ring toss, face painting, a basketball throw, and there will be prizes at some of the games, too.  There will also be prizes for the best costumes, so that’s why I want to get y’all something really cute.  Several men of the church are also grilling hamburgers and hot dogs, and there will also be corn dogs, French fries, cotton candy, and all those cakes for the cake walk—you can even win a cake.  There will be judging for the best costumes, and—” Mama dropped her voice to a mere whisper:  “I have heard through the grapevine that there will even be pony rides!” Grapevine?  I didn’t know there were any plants that could talk!  Oh.  That must be one of those dumb ol’ ‘figures of speech’ again.  Humans sure say some odd things when they are trying to say something else!
“Oh, I just love everything you said, Mama.  How many days is it until the fall festival??”  Annika wanted to know. 
“We’re having it on a Saturday so more people can attend, so it’s three more weeks—that 21 more days, girls.  That will give me time to get your costumes, thankfully.”  More power to you, Mama.  Just don’t try to dress me up like you’ve been known to do in the past.  I’ll never forget that hat and coat you made me—oh, I appreciated the thought, but I didn’t like being paraded around the community while wearing it! 
Then, dropping to a whisper again, Mama added, “And I’m gonna get Sargie a costume, too.  Since much of the festival will be held outside, people can bring their doggies if they want.  Wouldn’t it be fun to dress Sarge up, too?”  NO, IT WOULDN’T.  Mama, don’t you remember that I have excellent hearing?  Oh no—what do you propose to dress me up like—Prince Charming??
“Yay!” squealed Alexa.  “What kind of costume are you getting for Sargie?”
“The pet store in Anderson has lots of doggie costumes there, like all kinds of super heroes, butterflies, men’s suits—even a pumpkin one, so I’m just not sure yet which one would be best for Sargie.  Wouldn’t he look so cute in one of those, IF I can find just the right one?” Mama laughed.
“I think that’s a good idea for Sargie,” added Annika.  “Oh, I can hardly wait for the festival to come!”  Goody for you—but I’m gonna hide so nobody can find me—WAIT.  Did I hear right?  You said they would have FOOD at the fall festival?  Hmmmm.  Food vs. costume.  Food vs. costume.  Okay, food wins.  I’ll even wear something silly if I get to eat human food.  And there will be lots of children there, I hear.  They’re all suckers for giving dawgs their food.  This fall festival thing just might turn into an enjoyable outing for me and a decent method for getting human food after all.

Mama followed through on her promise to get costumes for Asher, the sisters, and for me.  She went shopping later that week, arriving home with a large shopping bag.  She pulled out the costumes one by one, asking the children to guess what they were.  The sisters automatically guessed what Annika’s costume was, because it was so obvious, even to me.  She was thrilled, and just had to try it on immediately.  Mama said she would help each of them, because she didn’t want the costumes torn.  Alexa couldn’t figure out what her costume was, but she thought it was pretty.  Mama said she wanted to save Asher’s until she put it on him, because she wanted to see if he knew what it was after he tried it on.
First, Annika was transformed into a bumblebee.  She had black tights, a short yellow ballerina-type skirt, and a long-sleeved yellow-and-black striped top with a fitted hood for her head with little antennae on top, and to complete her costume, there were little yellow wings of some kind of sheer fabric.  Mama said she could wear her black patent shoes with it, too.  Annika kept looking at herself in the mirror and giggling.
Next came Alexa’s costume.  Mama told Alexa that since she already had naturally curly hair, it wouldn’t take much to create tight ringlets.  And, with a big red bow on top of her head, she was gonna be Shirley Temple!  Now I didn’t know who Shirley Temple was, but Alexa sure did.  She said she LOVED watching old Shirley Temple movies on TV and knew most of her songs. In fact, Alexa immediately launched into one of them—at the top of her lungs!  Ouch.  My sensitive ears.   Mama shushed her and said to try on her dress, which was a soft white material covered with red polka dots.  According to Mama, this dress looked just like one in Shirley’s movies:  it had a short full skirt, the red bodice had sequins on it, and there were short puff sleeves.  Alexa would wear white tights she already had, her black patent Sunday shoes, along with that big red bow in her hair.  Alexa was thrilled, and kept twirling around because the skirt was so full.  She almost fell on me, in fact, so I got myself out of her way!
Then Mama smilingly pulled Asher’s costume out of her shopping bag.  It was some kind of black-and-white fuzzy material, but I couldn’t tell what it was.  Mama slipped it on over his other clothes, and it was just one piece, like those footed pajamas. This wasn’t pajamas, though—Asher was gonna be a cow!  It had a hood for his head that had cow ears on top, and a tail was attached to the back.  Mama guided him over to the mirror on the wall, then asked him if he knew what his costume was.  He looked at himself in that getup, began smiling, and then calmly said, “Asher moo moo cow.”  Aha!  So the young man figured it out.  Annika commented that he sure was a cute cow, and Alexa gave him a hug. 
Then, Mama turned to me with a smile.  I remembered that same gleam in her eyes from that time she made me that hat and coat—but this time I decided to just take it like a proud dachshund, because I knew I would be going to the festival where they would have lots of good FOOD.  Therefore, it was worth looking like an idiot for a few hours in exchange for getting something good to eat. 
She was sitting on the floor of the playroom and scooted over to where I was, still smiling, but I stayed put, much to her surprise.  My costume consisted of several straps she put around my sides and under my tummy.  Is this some kind of saddle, and I’m going as a horse, Mama?  Then she attached two saddlebag-looking things to my sides, so I was now certain that I was going as a horse.  Next, she attached something long, zigzaggy, and yellow on my back, like a stripe but I couldn’t see it well, so I had no clue what it was for.  Oh no, Mama—I’m not going as a skunk, am I??  Once she finished, Mama started laughing, and pointed at me, telling the sisters to stop twirling their skirts around and look at Sarge! 
Mama, still laughing, guided me over to the mirror, lifted me up on the table beside it, and pointed at my reflection in the mirror.  I was speechless!  Mama had turned me into a hot dog!  Yep, I had a bun half on each of my sides, and that “yellow thing” on my back was a strip of “mustard.”  I guess that makes me a hot dog inside a bun.  Papa has been calling me his hot dawg for years, but now I really am one.
What could I say?  I was what I was, and I would have to deal with all the attention I would surely get at the festival.  Wait—wasn’t attention exactly what I wanted?  If people thought I was cute, wouldn’t they be more likely to give me some of their food?  Especially the children—they would just love my cute costume, so after thinking it over, I grew excited and barked at my reflection, wagging my tail.  Annika said that Papa had called me a hot dog lots of times, but now, Sargie really would be a hot dog!  Mama misunderstood the reason for my excitement, telling the children that I liked my costume, too. 
Oh, I do, Mama—but not for the reason you think!

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