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A Dog Gets His Christmas

Sheriff Gillespie
Then K9 Sergeant

I don’t know exactly what year it was, but it was definitely Christmas Eve.  I believe I’d been in K-9 about two years, so that would probably make it 1991.

Danko, my work dog, for the most part was an outside dog.  The exception, the hot summer months that I allowed him to sleep inside with me.  He too, deserved a good day’s sleep before heading out for another hot night of work.  The majority of time, though, he stayed outside.  In fact, I think he preferred that.

One Christmas Eve, It was pretty darn cold, so me being a softy I allowed Danko to come inside.  Back in those days, I used to do quite a bit of cooking.  It being the day before Christmas, I smoked a chicken and made a very large plate of meringue chocolate chip coconut cookies.  Before Louise and I went to bed we got everything ready for the girls on Christmas morning and the chicken and cookies were placed up on the counter.  I woke up Christmas morning and started to get the house ready to wake up the girls when I noticed the plate the chicken had been on was now broken on the kitchen floor.  I also noticed the plate that held the cookies, though still on the counter, was completely empty.  During the night my great police dog had eaten the whole chicken, and I do mean the whole chicken.  There wasn’t one bone, one morsel of meat, not even one of those cookies to be found. Not anywhere!  

As for Danko, he was hiding.  He knew things were not looking good for him.  When I came upon him he was crouched down a bit and I noticed his belly was swollen.  Initially, I was nervous; a dog eating chicken bones is not a good thing.  It didn’t take long for me to realize he wasn’t lying on the floor because he was in pain.  He was laying on the floor in fear of what was to come next.  Since it was Christmas he was just pushed outside and we started our Christmas morning festivities.  

Later that day, my pager went off.  I contacted dispatch and they informed me that they needed a dog to do a search of the grocery store on Rancho at Cheyenne; I believe it was a Vons.  I didn’t want my guys going out there on Christmas Day, so, I put on my uniform and headed to the truck with Danko.  His stomach was still quite swollen and for the first time in his career he had quite a waddle.  I got him up in the truck, and then on our way to the store we went.  As we got out of the truck and prepared to enter the store, Mark Tavarez, (I believe he was a sergeant at that time), was waiting for me at the entry point.  He gave me the information about the alarm going off, no forced entry but they did have an open door, and then he looked down at my dog.  The next words out of his mouth were, “Boy looks like he has put on some weight”, I responded, “don’t even ask!”  Then Danko and I began our search of the store.

Like I said, he was a great police dog.  Even with his full belly he did everything I asked him to do.  

An interesting thing happened as we entered the bakery section.  As we made our way through the back counter, he, in his own little way spotted a cake sitting off to our left.  He immediately veered in the direction his nose wanted to go, straight for that cake.  A nice little word from me, and he then turned around.  He looked at me, and I tell you what, if that dog could have smiled, he’d of smiled as he turned and passed by that cake.  Even though he knew he was in trouble, even though he knew I was very disappointed in him, he really thought he had hit a home run the night before.

A boy, (Danko) who had grown up knowing only what dog food was, really enjoyed that smoked chicken and plate full of cookies.