Thursday, December 26, 2013

Every Time a Bell Rings, A Horse Earns a Few Bucks

Wheelzebub lives up to its name at every opportunity!

They say no good deed goes unpunished.  At least, that's how it seemed when I tried to get the van and Wheelzebub out of the driveway following the worst ice storm of the decade.  Clifford was slated to appear at the Howell Wal-Mart -- an hour away -- to ring the bell for the Salvation Army.  Their Red Kettle program was limping through the season without meeting its goal.

This faction of the SA had helped me by donating a half tank of propane the winter before my home foreclosed.  I had never fotgotten it.  It was time to give back -- at least a little -- and Clifford was just the horse to do it.

It took a lot of salt, and finally some chains and a hefty diesel pickup, but we finally broke loose and were up and running.
Beth and her trained pooch, Charlie Darwin.  Her husband Bob poses in the background with Magic Genie, a Belgian Tervuren.
 Once again, we had my friend Beth Duman to thank, who had helped us arrange Clifford's appearance. After many years of bell-ringing, Beth is practically a Christmas fixture at Wal-Mart with her wonderful dogs, who take cash offered by passing customers and drop it into a bucket.

Clifford was more than happy to ring the bell, especially after it was attached to his halter and all he had to do was shake his head.  Pretty soon I noticed that, every time I hopped up and down to keep warm, he would start shaking and ringing those bells.  I think I was subliminally cueing him, but he did seem to enjoy the cheery jingling sounds he was making.

Clifford stood on his mat for the better part of two hours, happily greeting the public, and earning candy canes for his efforts.  We even made a front page article in the Livingston County Press!  But he really just wanted to go into Wal-Mart.  Every time my back was turned (while I bent to get more candy canes or was distracted by some other menial task), I would look up just in time to see his rear end disappearing through the sliding doors, amid the hysterical laughter of surprised customers.  Each time, I was able to catch him before he walked through the inner doors to enter the store.  Once I had to run, and when he saw me coming, he ran too.  I was having mental images of him pillaging the produce section.  Fortunately, a shopping cart happened to be blocking him, and he stopped.

It was a cold, but unique and gratifying way to celebrate Christmas Eve.  Clifford's generosity and sense of fun illustrates the true spirit of the season!  Happy Holidays to all!

Cliffy's Aunt Claire showed up to snap some photos.

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