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Did You Say T-r-e-a-t?

“Gather ’round, all you dogs, I’ve got an important announcement.”

“OK, Boss, but do we get a treat first?” said Kink, the orphaned black Labrador/Chow cross—his readily identifiable marks being the sharp kink in the lower end of his tail and the small splotches of black on his otherwise pink tongue.

“Yeah, Boss, did I hear the treat word?” muttered Pumpkin, the approximately 105-year-old (in dog time) Australian shepherd, whelped in southwestern Mississippi, living out her glory years working cattle in Kentucky.

“Treat? Treat? Treat?” pitter-pattered Duff, the miniature poodle, saved from the shadows of the humane society.

“No treat until you hear the announcement, because after you hear it, you might want to consider leaving Dog Town.”

“Oh, Boss, you ain’t puttin’ us back on the road, by any bad chance, ’er you?” said Kink, taking aim on a tickling tick.

“Whoa back, Boss,” said Pumpkin in a low and even groan, “don’t be teasing us about the treat thing. You know how we live for it—I, the senior ‘person’ being first in line, do not appreciate being fooled with—I, Pumpkin, the in-your-face, nose-tweekin,’ heel-nippin,’ head ’em up and get ’em to the loading pens, fearless, faithful, always-on-time cattle mover. Do not, I say, do NOT play around with the treats at the end of my illustrious, long career.”

“Dern, Pumpkin, how you do get worked up when it’s time for old women dogs to be listenin’,” said Kink, eyes sparkling, crooked tail wagging, moisture moving across the dark spots on his hungered tongue.

“Thank you for your various contributions here in Dog Town, my darlings, but the announcement comes first.”

You could have heard a flea flutter at the town hall meeting.

“I have decided to bring in a Catahoula cur—does anybody have anything they want to say about it?”

“Say WHAT?” said Kink.

“Surely not one of THEM,” groaned Pumpkin.

“Treat, treat, treat,” sputtered Duff.

“Listen up. We’ve got a coyote problem, and so far none of you is doing anything about it except a precious few, pitiful, low-level howlings at the moon. One of these times, a hungry coyote is going to come in here and take his pick—a juicy Kink, a cured Pumpkin, or a cream puff Duff. Now, we wouldn’t want that, WOULD we?”

“The boss is on to something,” said Kink.

“Go on,” said Pumpkin, “we’ve heard the good news, there’s got to be some bad.”

“Treat, treat, treat,” said Duff.

“The only possible bad news is that I’m bringing in a dog named Cat.”

“You WHAT?”

“Say it ain’t so, Boss.”

“Treat, treat…”

“Shut up, you animal shelter lottery winner.”

“The three of you should be grateful that Dog Town exists. You’re well-fed and patted on the head. All your medical expenses are covered. In short, you have a home.

“Cat is a Catahoula cur puppy from central Louisiana. She’s a crazy-eyed, white, gray, black-spotted critter descended from a long line of wild hog hunters.”

“She WHAT?” swallowed Kink.

“Sounds like Dog Town’s about to become Trouble Town,” said Pumpkin.

“Treat…”

“Will you COOL IT, Mr. Pampered? The boss is looking out for us. So, shut up and listen or I’m going to give you something to write home about to the shelter—turn you from poodle to puddle.”

“All right, you dogs, I’ve checked out Cat, and when she gets here, I suggest you make her welcome and see if you can stay out of her way. She’s just a 6-week-old puppy, but this time next year she’ll outweigh all of you. If you see any coyotes moving through, you might just mention that Dog Town has become Cat Town, the devil take the hindmost.

“Now, the treats!”

The dogs smiled in speechless, trusting contentment.

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