The Night Before Christmas: HIP Edition

TALES BLOG /The Night Before Christmas: HIP Edition

Written by MC (and Vivienne Claire) Stewart - TeleHIP Therapy Team


It was Christmas 2020, and the whole year had been chaotic!

The worst was Covid-19 we couldn’t cure with an antibiotic.

There was tension and unrest over brutality and people’s rights.

It’s a wonder any of us could sleep on most nights.

There had been so much sadness and a terribly contentious election.

And it wasn’t a pretty picture when we paused for reflection.

Surely if we looked hard enough, there had to be some good.

Because otherwise events could leave us poleaxed where we stood.


“Do we have enough toilet paper?” Too many people worried.

So off to Publix, Target and Walmart they quickly hurried.

“Dash away, grab away! Oh look there’s the bleach!

Grab those Lysol wipes and germ killer! Up there! Can you reach?”

They stocked up and stalked stores looking for cleaning supplies.

And the only TP left on any shelf was Scott Tissue and single-plies. (Ewwww!)

The internet was overrun with demands for such things.

That was March, it’s December, and Amazon is still running in rings.


Dr Fauci said, “Be smart, wash your hands, social distance and wear a mask.”

He had to be thinking, “Good grief, is that so d*mn much to ask?”

Many of us lost friends, family members or acquaintances we knew.

It was so scary to see some very dire predictions coming true.

Let’s not even go into devastating hurricanes, economics, protests and unrest.

Let’s just say 2020 showed us far from being our best.


So amid the chaos, Vivienne and I found ourselves at loose ends.

We loved canine classes and new tricks we performed for our friends!

I’d already bought Viv’s dress for her next MuttCracker performance!

Because as cute as she is, what she wears is of great theatric importance.

Lee Stewart said, “So you buy all these dresses from Etsy just to keep in your closets?”

“Well, I guess it’s true now since we can’t perform for our trainers and nonprofits.

All fun events, classes and fundraisers have been cancelled.

The virus has wreaked havoc, but Viv’s energy needs to be channeled.”



We put our minds to it and earned tricks titles from Do More with Your Dog.

I wasn’t sure if we could do it, but this girl left me agog!

Viv was brilliant and achieved four titles from Novice to Expert!

We’re still trying so hard for Champion which for a Pug is very hard work.

She must use her mouth for more than just food; she must fetch and catch.

Having no nose and being nearsighted make some tricks a hard match.

She’s short, and I’m tall; so she can’t jump over my back.

But when it comes to dance moves, she can lead the pack!

If we can ever perform for crowds again, we can get AKC Trick Dog Title equivalents.

We could earn Performer and Performer Elite Titles if COVID-19 wasn’t so virulent.


“So, what else can we do? Can we be useful?” were questions we were asking.

Organizations like HIP who served their communities found themselves grasping.

“How can we help? How can we adapt and continue to serve

Those people who suffer from things they never deserved?”

There are children who need help with learning and reading.

There are adults who need comfort and enjoy a friendly greeting.

There are people who are sick in the hospitals and afraid.

There are stressed out students needing relief as they make the grade.

What does this have to do with Vivienne and me?

Give me another minute or two of this poem and you will see.



As Covid worsened, there remain resourceful, bright minds in Hand in Paw.

You all worked hard to deal with the current and upcoming issues you saw.

You asked how can we serve the community we love?

And the inspiration through the perspiration had to be inspired from above.

The idea of virtual therapy was born. Let’s see how to make this fly.

Minds working in overtime came up with ideas to try.

Super teams like my bestie Pam and her dogs Maylee and Niblet

Took to the web through Zoom and Google Meet to visit.

The feedback was great and helped so much to fill the void.

The truth is we need a smile and laugh. It was so enjoyed.



Vivienne and I had screened to be a Hand in Paw team in late 2019.

We did very well and had worked so hard or so it seemed.

I knew there could possibly be one big issue.

And sure enough it was a big one we hate to admit to.

Viv loves people, is sweet, snuggly and friendly to everyone almost.

But if you’re the neutral dog named Fred, then “Bark, bark, bark, you are toast!”

So back to work we went, more classes and outings and walks.

“It’s crazy since since you live with other dogs,” I told Viv in our talks.

Is it even possible that Viv and I could ever fit?

After that girl behaved so rudely to poor Fred, she acted like a....jerk.


So is this virtual therapy something Vivienne and I could do?

She’s a happy girl with so much joy to share it’s true.

She loves to do tricks, and wow that could give people a big smile.

And maybe, for just a minute, it could give their minds a break for a while.

This virtual therapy thing has a lot of potential to succeed.

We can perform her best tricks from at home off lead.

We can have all her equipment available which is too much to haul.

From one visit to another, look at all her stuff y’all!

Hula hoop, electric skateboard, a car, bells, lights, piano

Voice box, BoomBox, mailbox, tunnel, shell game to-go? (I don’t think so.)

We asked to join virtual therapy and begged to be approved.

I set up a garage backdrop with all Viv’s equipment to set a happy mood.

We interviewed with Stacey, Kiersten and Carol the second week of December.

Being granted a chance to help with my angel Viv will always be remembered.

We love Hand in Paw, everyone there and the mission

To enhance lives through pet therapy and improve the human condition.

So even though 2020 was such a chaotic year,

Viv and I are looking forward to our work with Hand in Paw with great cheer.

Thank you all for the chance for us to serve and have fun.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and here’s to a Happier 2021.

There’s still one thing I must deal with, it’s a shame to confess this;

But Viv still has to find places to wear all those new dresses.