AP NEWS

A Christmas tail

December 21, 2018

Tank was anxious.

The alpha dog, Nellie, was away for a while, resting from surgery and still in a cast. She left Tank in charge but was a little aghast.

It was, Tank knew, a big chore. He had the humans to care for and the little dog, Maisie.

His first nights without Nellie he slept not a wink, nervous he was that he might have to think.

Night patrols were a thing he’d never done because Nellie was vigilant, so Tank just had fun.

But now he paced, checking each room. He barked at the coyotes in snow knee deep.

It was hard to sleep with so much to do, so he cut down his nap time from six hours to two.

A bit about Maisie, to round out the tale. She was a tenth of Tank’s size but as tough as a gale. She was bossy and playful and often quite a handful.

Tank wondered if she would do in a clutch, for she often passed out on a bed and slept like the dead.

The weeks before Christmas went by and were calm, and Tank felt that his job was going quite well.

Things began to fall apart one day in the snow. A truck hit a tree when he tried to back up. Tank barked and barked to give a heads-up.

The next morning was worse for there were crows on the roof, pecking and clawing and clacking away. Tank jumped up and down and made such a noise that his dad came running expecting a fray.

But the crows flew the coup. Tank thought, “Job well done!” His dad went back to work feeling a bit duped.

That night was no better, and I’ll tell you why. There was cooking and baking and cookies galore! There were crumbs on the counter. There were cookies on the stove.

Tank knew what his task was … but he loved cookies too!

Watching the cookies was his task, though he thought it a lot to ask! For he had a stomach that cried out for food, for dog food and human food and food for the fish!

Eating was always his greatest, greatest wish!

His stomach was wary that Christmas Eve night, as he prepared for his task of guarding the loot.

He waited quietly for the house to go dark, and then he moved quickly with not even a bark.

He stood in the kitchen where the cookies were kept. “Maybe just one?” His stomach wept.

So up went his paws on the counter near the platter. But it made such a racket, indeed quite a clatter, that the house woke up to see what was the matter.

On went the kitchen lights and there stood Tank with a grin on his face, caught robbing the cookie bank!

“Oh, Tankie,” exclaimed mom, “we caught you in time. A few minutes more and the cookies would be gone.”

Maisie gave Tank a withering stare. Then she trotted back to bed, her tail in the air.

Oppressed and depressed, Tank thought to himself, “This watchdog business is way overrated.

I warned of the truck, chased coyotes away! My reward should be plenty of cookies all day!”

He grumbled some more, then gritted his teeth. He would prove to his family that he was no thief.

Tank slept cautiously till morning came, after all it was Christmas, and this wasn’t a game.

In swept the family as hungry as bears, completely aloof to all of Tank’s cares.

Tank opened his eyes and shook off his sleep, saw the family stood ’round him and jumped up with a leap. “Tank saved the cookies!” The mom called to all. “We avoided a brawl, you’re the best dog of all!”

Then Tank was given many a smile and a hug and just replied with a humble shrug.

Maisie harrumphed but then gave in with glee. And Tank was as happy as happy could be.

So the Christmas cookies were saved, and Tank was the hero, even Nellie would claim he was certainly no zero!

A dog’s job at Christmas is undoubtedly tense; with cookies and people, one needs a sixth sense!

But Tank proved to his family he was up for the job, and no matter what Maisie thought, he wasn’t a slob.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays and happy new year! May all the dogs and cats receive all the cookies they hold dear!

For more writings by Hersch Wilson on dogs, firefighters and life go to herschwilson.com. Contact him at hersch.wilson@mac.com.

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