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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Valiant veggies team up to help dog, boy reunite

By Doreen Lowther

Illustration by Martha P. Hernandez • The Honolulu Advertiser

In the twinkling of the store's Christmas lights, the vegetables got together and read the sign a little boy put in the store window. "Have you seen my dog? Her name is Queenie. Please call 555-1376." A picture was attached.

The potato said, "We can use our eyes to look at all the dogs that pass our store."

"We can hear if any of the customers mention a lost dog," the ears of corn said.

"We can think of what to do when we find the dog," the heads of cabbage, lettuce and cauliflower said all together. "And stop crying," they said to the onion.

"I can't help it. It's sad the boy lost his dog." This onion got all the other onions crying.

The next day, the potatoes, near the window, watched as people passed by the store. Those who stopped read the signs that told what was on sale. No one read the sign about Queenie.

The potatoes didn't see a dog pass by for hours. When one did go by, it wasn't Queenie.

The ears of corn listened to the customers chatter about the wonderful Christmas they would have with their families. No one mentioned a lost dog.

The vegetables watched and listened all Christmas Eve with no luck.

It was now closing time. Old Mr. Kim locked the door. He shut off the lights except where he was rearranging cans of soup. A few more things to put away, and he would retire to his apartment over the store. Mr. Kim lived alone now and planned to work around the store Christmas Day.

While Mr. Kim was busy, the vegetables were pressed against the window. "I see a dog across the street," said the potato. "Get the sign so I can see if it is Queenie."

"The poor dog is alone on Christmas Eve," one onion said. Then the onions started crying again.

The vegetables looked at the sign, then at the dog across the street. The dog was huddled in a doorway, so it was hard to see.

"We should call the dog over here so we can get a better look," the cabbage said, adding, "Who will do the calling?"

They turned to the beets.

"You have strong voices," lettuce said.

"We do not," the beets replied. "How about the garlic? They're strong."

"No, the garlic smells strong. They don't have strong voices," the cauliflower said.

The beets, being outnumbered, started to call the dog. "Come here," one beet said, then turned to the vegetables and said, "What's the dog's name? Leenie? Weenie?"

"Queenie!" the vegetables yelled together. The yell was loud enough for the dog to hear. It came across the street to the door.

Mr. Kim heard the commotion. He thought someone had broken in. He tiptoed across the store. He peeked around the corners of the aisles in case someone was down one of them. But he saw no one.

When he reached the vegetable bins, he saw the sign on top of the potatoes. He was about to tape it back on the window when he noticed the dog sitting in front of his store. Mr. Kim looked at the sign and at the dog.

"The colors are the same, black and white. I can't see the collar from here. I'll open the door and check." Mr. Kim unlocked the door. The dog watched the door opening wider and wider. All of a sudden, a black and white furry streak pushed past Mr. Kim, making him spin like a top.

Mr. Kim regained his balance and said, "Queenie, sit." The dog sat down. "I guess you're the one they're looking for." As Mr. Kim petted Queenie on her head, she gave him a wet slurp of a kiss on the side of his face. Mr. Kim laughed as he stood up. Queenie barked and turned in circles.

"Hungry? Let's get you something to eat." Queenie followed Mr. Kim to the dog food aisle. He got a dog dish off the shelf and poured food into it. Queenie ate three bowls full.

While she ate, Mr. Kim called the little boy and said Queenie was safe. The boy said he and his dad would be right over.

Soon a blue truck pulled up to the curb. A little boy and a man got out and knocked on the door. Mr. Kim opened the door and let them in. The little boy saw his dog, and she went running to him. The boy hugged Queenie.

"We want to thank you, Mr. Kim, for finding our dog. We don't have any money to reward you. Won't you please come to our home and spend Christmas with us?" the man said.

"I don't want to be a bother. I have so many things to fix in the store." Mr. Kim tried to make excuses. In his heart, he didn't want to spend the day alone.

"I'll pick you up tomorrow at noon. You'll have dinner with us and be part of our family," the boy's father said.

"That's very kind of you. I look forward to it. Merry Christmas," Mr. Kim said. He waved goodbye as they drove away. Queenie barked her goodbyes from the back of the truck.

The vegetables heard Mr. Kim singing as he shut off the lights and went upstairs.

"See? I told you everything was going to be all right," said the cabbage.

"We never heard you say that," the ears of corn said.

"I should have seen it coming. You always think you know everything," one of the potatoes said.

"And stop crying," all the vegetables said to the onions.

All the vegetables wished each other a Merry Christmas. This took most of the night.