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Labrador Tales

by Walt Zientek

The little pup was confused and frightened. She was such a precious girl. A delicate thing with soft golden eyes. She tried so hard to do the things her people wanted. She almost always went outside on time. She went to school and practiced real, real hard, even when she wasn't sure of all the words. She was a Lab after all, and her people were most important to her.

Maybe she played too hard? Maybe she should have tried to be a bigger girl and not get so excited by her toys and balls? Maybe she kissed too much? Maybe people really don't want doggie kisses all the time? Maybe happy tails knock over too many things? Maybe she should have tried harder?

She wondered if it was the clothing. Perhaps she should have learned to leave the socks alone? The underwear! The pantyhose! That silly skinny string that tastes like mints! She knew now why things had turned out this way. She had been so bad, even though she had tried to be good.

Christmas time was coming and at first all had seemed so wonderful. Lights and garland and tinsel and a big, green tree, right inside the house! Presents being wrapped and hidden and excitement in the children's eyes.

And then the talk of a big, jolly man that rides a magic sleigh and comes to visit all the boys and girls. Santa Claus, sliding down the chimney, leaving gifts behind. It seemed a wonderful time of year.

Then she heard the words that told her she was bad. "We have to leave Chocolate Chip cookies for Santa this year," the momma person said. "To take away with him on his sleigh."

The little golden-eyed girl was sad. But because she was a Lab, she accepted her fate. That quiet, Christmas Eve, she took her place by the hearth and waited for the time to come. She only blamed herself.

"Cookie. Wake up baby girl." She heard the momma whisper. "Merry Christmas Cookie!" the little girl squealed. "Look, Santa has come and eaten the snack we left him! And he even left some presents for you! Look! They say, 'To Chocolate Chip Cookie, the best little Lab in the World!'"

Cookie blinked her eyes and wagged her tail and did a little doggy dance, but she was careful when she gave her kisses. And she was very careful when she wagged her tail. And she never, ever, stole a sock again.

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