This story starts on October 4th. Why exactly, you might ask, does it start on this particular day?
Well, it’s because that was the day that Tessa Virtue, a Toronto-based stylist, was floored with Facebook notifications about an annual Halloween costume competition for dogs that would take place on the 26th. Everyone that knows her to a certain degree also knows about the dark furball that is her dog, a two year old yorkshire named Holmes.
(Holmes came into Tessa’s life and stole her heart after she saw a local animal shelter Facebook post about a 6 months old puppy rescued from an abusive environment. It was a long period of adaptation with her new dog, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. He has her wrapped around his little paws. Nowadays, he enjoys his walks and cuddles on the couch in her living room or on her bed.
His name was chosen when Tessa realized how much he seemed to be enjoying her reading “A Study in Scarlet” out loud during her dog’s first week at his forever home. She also liked how much the name almost sounded like home . He got used to it pretty quickly.)
But Tessa, being a planner as always, already has a costume planned for her dog for at least a month now. She’s going to dress her dog as his namesake, Sherlock Holmes. Tessa knows that it isn’t the most original idea compared to the previous year - when she dressed him as a bee, but the costume has its charm and uniqueness factor. And she’s also planning to attend the event dressed as Dr. Watson. That’s a winning combo, if I ever saw one! , she muses to herself.
And how does the other human party in this story finds out about this same event, you might be asking yourself?
On that same day, Scott Moir, a world class figure skating coach, sees a bundle of flyers at the front desk of the veterinarian office located in London where he usually takes his dog, Chewie, when needed. Chewie, Scott’s loyal four-legged companion, is a two year old mixed dachshund - or wiener, like his owner prefers to tell others.
(Chewie came into Scott’s life on a sunny spring afternoon, when he had a play date with Charlotte and Quinn, his adored nieces. After treating them with ice cream from a new parlor that had opened recently in the city next to where he lives, they decided to stroll the streets close by. They passed in front of a pet shop that was holding a small adoption fair. Scott’s nieces swooned over the dogs of all ages, waiting for a human to take them to their forever home. Charlotte soon spotted a crate with four puppies, two of them being dachshunds. Scott got closer to this crate and the puppies keep on lying down.
The puppy that got Scott’s attention was the smallest of them - a male dachshund. He called Quinn to stay close to him and then asked both girls which dog got their attention too, wanting to know if they were noticing the tiny wiener pup sniffing the ear of the dog close to him. The answer was the same: the tiny puppy in the crate. As if he was sensing that some humans were paying attention on him, the dog looked up at Scott and the girls. And just like that, Scott was a goner.
There was only one name that came to mind after seeing him trying to growl like the famous wookie in “The Last Jedi” - the movie they watched together on the first night he took his pup home.)
As soon as he finishes reading the information available on the flyer, Scott knows which costumes he should get for Chewie and himself: a hot dog and his vendor. He knows it’s a bit too obvious, but it will still be hilarious.
The days pass by and so does the planning of Tessa and Scott’s dog costumes for the contest. Tessa already has Holmes’ costume - custom made, of course - and has already sorted the accessories she still needs to buy for her own. Meanwhile, Scott has ordered Chewie’s hot dog costume from Amazon and has been slowly working on his own too. Both Tessa and Scott have cleared their usually busy work schedule to make some time to stay with their families on the weekend that precedes the spookiest day of the year.
The morning of the 26th day of October arrives and the plans for the contest are underway.
Tessa had prepared her car for the two and a half hours drive between Toronto and London with Holmes on the night before, since she needs to take him out for pee and water breaks as much she does. After hitting “ignore” on the last alarm she had set for the day, Tessa yawns and rubs a hand across her face, as if she’s trying to push the sleepiness away from her mind. She feels the pleasant weight of Holmes curled up behind her bended knees and smiles to herself.
“Good morning, Holmes.” Tessa says. Holmes yawns and gets up, creeping lazily towards his owner’s head - like he always does every morning that he sleeps with his human. “Did you sleep well, baby?” He yawns and plops down beside her, rolling up on his belly for some rubs. “What do you say we go for a drive to see Nana?” Holmes rolls back over his paws and barks in response, making Tessa laugh at her dog’s antics.
After eating a light breakfast, and giving Holmes some nausea medicine, Tessa puts her pup inside his pet travel carrier on the passenger seat and walks around the front of her car to take her seat behind the steering wheel. She makes sure everything she needs for her road trip is packed or within arm’s reach, putting her phone on the console and starts the car engine.
“London, Ontario, here we go!”
Scott’s morning on the 26th started really early, all thanks to Chewie’s small and continuous whines coming from the kitchen in his bachelor pad. He grunts to himself, knowing full well his dog won’t stop unless he gets up and opens the door for the wiener.
He spares a look towards his old alarm clock on his bedside table to check the time - 4:30 a.m. - and grunts one more time. He’s definitely used to waking up at what some people consider an ungodly time of the day, due to his choice of profession. But after adopting his furry companion, the reasons behind his early wake up calls changed - and his old alarm clock wasn’t necessary unless he was alone in the apartment, before travelling or getting back from a big competition.
The whining stops for a few seconds and that has Scott standing up and walking towards the kitchen in a few seconds, being fully aware of the unspoken rule about having a dog: silence is never a good thing. “I’m coming, Chewie.”
While Chewie takes his time outside, Scott decides there’s no use going back to bed when he starts his day a bit early and finishes up the details on his hot dog vendor costume. The basics for it are there, but he still needs to finish two details: his hat and trail to carry Chewie. Scott knows he should have finished his costume at least a week ago, but figure skating season had just started and his coaching expertise was in high demand.
He starts running the coffee machine and looks out to the mess in his living room, trying to think what he should do this - organize his place or work on his costume? The soft click clack noise of his dog’s feet on the hardwood floor, soon followed by Chewie’s wet nose snuffling against his right foot interrupts his line of thought and he looks down at his pup.
“Are you excited for today, buddy? We’re gonna go out today.” Chewie starting wagging his tail and then does a spin - a common thing that he does when his hooman talks about his walkies. Scott smiles at the dog’s antics.
Scott finishes assembling his breakfast, banana pancakes (and of course he feeds Chewie two of them). After eating, he puts the dirty kitchen utensils in the dishwashing machine. He then moves to the living room, followed by Chewie, organizing the mess he left behind on the previous night when he got home. The dog merely watches his hooman’s actions from his bed, much to Scott’s amusement.
Feeling satisfied with how his living room looks now, Scott goes to his office and gathers everything he has already put together for his costume, walking back to the living room so he has more space to work on it - and to keep an eye out on his dog. He spreads around the fabric markers and sharpies, and starts to work on some details he missed due to his busy week.
After what feels like moments have passed (when in fact it’s already past 7am), Scott looks out the living room window and sees the sun slowly rising on the horizon. He sighs and gets up with the decision to make more coffee, stopping on the short walk to the kitchen to see if Chewie was still on his bed. And he is, lazily napping with his belly up in the air. Scott snorts at the sight and continues walking towards his destination.
Once he fills a new mug of the steamy brown liquid with a dash of cream and sugar, Scott returns to the couch in the living room only to find Chewie sniffing his hot dog costume, sitting next to the dog.
“Are you here to check on my progress, mister?” He asks, booping his dog’s nose. The wiener whines in return.
Two coffee mugs later, Scott recaps the sharpies he had opened and looks at the final piece of his costume.
“This will have to be enough.” He huffs, shifting his gaze towards his four legged companion. “Right, Chewie?”
Tessa arrives at the shelter, holding Holmes’ leash in one hand and a big tupperware, full of brownies, on the other - a treat Tessa always takes with her when she visits the place that brought her beloved dog into her life. A blonde short haired woman, dressed as a cookie baker - soon followed by her dog, Milo, a border collie dressed as Cookie Monster, opens the glass door for Tessa.
“Ah, thank you, Charlene.” She says, giving the shelter volunteer a gentle smile.
“Not a problem. I noticed you were getting close to the door on the cameras and thought you could use some help opening the door.” The woman answers, crouching to scratch Holmes’ furry head.
“Oh, so that means I’m the first to get here?” She fixes the non-existent creases on her plaid midi skirt.
“Not really, there are a few more people in the back open area already.” Charlene points.
“Good to know.” She says, nodding. “Oh, the brownies are for you and everyone who’s on a shift today.” She adds, handing over the plastic container.
“Ah, Tessa, you didn’t have-”
She cuts off the shelter volunteer. “Yes, I do . The work that you and the whole staff do here is admirable. The brownies I bring every time I visit here is the least I can do to thank you for that, and for bringing Holmes into my life.” As if on cue, the dog looks at the blonde woman with his best puppy eyes and barks softly.
“See? Even Holmes agrees with me!” she adds, gesturing towards her dog. Both women share a laugh.
“Well, since you’re insisting, I’ll take it. I’m sure Ana will appreciate this.”
“That’s good.” Tessa nods. “Now, how about we go check out my competition?”
Charlene nods her head in agreement, and both women start walking towards the area where the contest is being held, their dogs in tow.
As they get closer to their destination, a daschund, in a hot dog costume, rushes over to them, only to stop where Holmes is.
They soon hear the noise of hurried footsteps in their direction. A man dressed as some sort of food vendor - no one else but Scott himself - runs up to the hallway towards the women.
“Chewie, wait.” He calls out.
“I’m sorry. He never does that.” Scott says, a bit out of breath. He gathers Chewie up in his arms. “You can’t run away from me like that, buddy.”
“Can’t you control your dog?” Tessa asks in a teasing tone.
He doesn’t notice Tessa’s expression and keeps on rambling. “I’m sorry. I usually can control him, but I don’t know what happened and…”
As Scott continues rambling, Tessa can’t fight off her giggles, making it hard for him to miss the sound of laughter. He stops talking and looks at her, with realization dawning on him. “Oh, you’re teasing me.”
She nods through her giggles. “Took you long enough.” She shares a smile with Charlene, who silently excuses herself and lets them be.
“I’m Tessa.” She says, offering her hand for him to shake. “And this is Holmes.”
“Scott.” He replies, with a grin on his face, and shakes her hand. He’s already captivated by her beauty and her green eyes.
“And your dog’s name is…”
“Ah, yes, this runaway mister is Chewie.”
“Nice to meet you, Scott and Chewie.”
“It’s nice to meet you and Holmes too.” He glances down at her outfit and at Holmes, then back at Tessa’s face. “So… it seems that decided to go on the literature route and dress your dog at Sherlock Holmes... and you are Watson?”
“Elementary, my dear.” She says, with a playful flick of her left hand. “And I assume Chewie is a hot dog and you’re his vendor?”
Scott swiftly replies. “Not his vendor, because Chewie’s not for sale, but yeah. You got it right.”
“Oh, pardon me on assuming you’re selling your dog.” She says, unconsciously placing a hand on his upper arm. Tessa realizes what she’s doing a bit too late, because Scott looks down at her hand and she pulls it back down to her side.
Scott nervously looks between Chewie and Tessa, then back at Tessa. “Uhm, I think they are going to start the contest soon.” He says, putting Chewie back on the ground and shyly adjusting his hat.
“Ah, yes, probably.”
The 3rd Annual Halloween Party is an eventful affair, with its share of laughter, dogs, and well, costumes. As you have imagined, Tessa and Holmes with their carefully crafted costumes were awarded first place. When she's called to receive the award - a pumpkin-shaped bowl filled with treats for dogs - Tessa spots Scott in the small crowd and shares a look with him. He enthusiastically whistles in celebration.
The second place goes to Marta, who dressed as Elizabeth Bennet and her dog (an apricot poodle) as Darcy, like his namesake - even wearing a frilly collar and top hat. As for third place, a tie between two duos happens: Andrea, dressed as an explorer with her “lion” (Einstein, a golden retriever), and Iryna, dressed as Aunt Lucy with her Paddington bear (a Pomeranian named Muffin). They all receive treats for their dogs as a reward.
The event starts to wind down when Tessa sits down on a bench and gives Holmes a treat. She noticed through the pleasant afternoon how her dog strolled around the other dogs, but always went back to where the wiener dog - Chewie , she corrects herself quickly - is.
She quickly spots Scott talking to the woman that got the third place in the contest, dressed as an explorer. She appears to be showing him something on her phone and making him laugh. And what a great laugh he has. Tessa wonders if he laughs just as much with dog and maybe his partner.
Wait, where did this thought come from?
She shakes her head to clear her thoughts, deciding instead to check her pup. What Tessa doesn’t see is that Scott noticed her looking at him while the woman next to him showed a video of her dog, Einstein, scaring her neighbors on the test run of the ‘lion’ wig for his costume.
“This is so funny.” He says, cleaning the laughter tears that started gathering on his eyes. “I need to drink something, excuse me.”
“Sure, I need to check Einstein, so it’s fine.” She turns to walks away.
He quickly spots Chewie and - by consequence - Holmes and Tessa, who’s sitting on a bench, bending to give both dogs some belly rubs. Scott smiles to himself and makes his way towards them. The dogs seem to notice someone is coming by and roll back on their paws.
“Hey, buddy, are you behaving?” Chewie looks at him and wiggles his tail. “I see you have a new furry buddy now.” He says, offering his hand for Holmes to sniff.
“You know, it’s not easy for Holmes to act like this around another dog.” She says, petting her dog’s head. She looks to meet Scott’s curious gaze for a few moments, then lowers her eyes towards her dog again. “I got him through this shelter and I know his past was just not… I just wish he didn’t go through what he did before I got him.”
“Well, I might have just met you, but I have a feeling Holmes ended up with the best person he could possibly have.” He says, noticing how her cheeks redden up a bit with his compliment.
“That’s really sweet of you to say this.” She answers, tucking a strand of hair behind her right ear.
“It might be sweet, but it’s also the truth.” He says, shrugging his shoulders. “At least from how I’ve seen you taking care of your dog here, today.”
“I can say the same thing about you and your dog. Even though his costume looks better than yours.” She adds, petting Chewie’s head and smiling softly at the dog.
“Well, excuse me, not everyone can win the contest, you know?” He asks rhetorically, with a smirk on his face.
“Coming here to support the shelter is what matters the most to me. If I get to win it, it’s just a bonus.” She gazes at him, still with a smile on her face. Scott sees that there isn’t any malice behind her words and smiles back at her.
Tessa decides to interpret the way Scott smiles at her as a sign that he could be as affected by her in the same way she is by him and makes a bold move.
“Would you like to go out for a coffee sometime with me? And Holmes?” She adds quickly.
His answer is just as quick and with a smirk on his lips. “It’s a date.”
The end (?)