On the morning of Christmas eve, my dog, Roy, and I stopped in to say hi to our next door neighbors, Lee and Annie, and meet their guests visiting from Wisconsin. As we entered the house, one of the guests, eight year old Dylan, was perched on a kitchen stool; his legs tucked up and his lips pursed a bit. His mother explained, “He’s afraid of dogs.” I assured them Roy is very friendly, but Dylan remained cautious.
That afternoon, Roy and I returned, and I brought along a copy of my book, “Roy and Kitty.” Dylan was in the bedroom, so I asked Annie to tell him Santa had stopped by early. Dylan came out, looked guardedly at Roy and hastily climbed up onto the kitchen stool. I told him I had brought a gift, but wanted to tell him a story first. “Roy used to be afraid of some kids up the street,” I said, “because they rode electric scooters, and the buzzing sound scared him. But, one day I asked one of the kids to turn off the little motor and come over to see Roy. Once the boy said hello to Roy and petted him, Roy was no longer afraid. Once you get to know more about someone or something, you may stop being afraid. So, I’m going to give you this book and, after you read it, you will know Roy better. Maybe you could even become friends.” Dylan read a few pages and then, sliding off the stool, announced, “I’ll be right back.”
He was gone for quite a while, then Annie went to check, and returned to explain, “He and his mom are reading the book together; they both love it.” It was about time for us to leave, so I asked Annie to tell Dylan that Roy wanted to say goodbye. Dylan came out slowly and, with a bit of coaching, reached down and petted Roy gently. Roy licked Dylan’s toe which was protruding out from his sandals. Dylan giggled and stepped back. I asked him if he’d like to give Roy a treat. He paused for a moment, and said quietly, “Next time.” As Roy and I were going out the door, I overheard Dylan say, “I hope he comes back tomorrow.” We did come back on Christmas day, and Dylan happily welcomed his new friend, Roy.