You’re stealing Baby Jesus?!

Show of paws here: how many people know what a pogonip is?

For the unwary, a pogonip is also called an ice-fog and is basically a thick blanket of winter fog that freezes on contact with anything solid, forming a super-slick rime of ice up to several inches thick.


As penance for my brutal assassination of Santa Claus the year before, the Sheriff had graciously allowed me to be volunteered to play the Jolly Olde Elf at the town Christmas pageant.

The suit was a wonder. Even wearing armour and a gun-belt, I still disappeared in the deep, dark depths. This little problem was solved by the addition of several pillows from the trustee cell and three crumpled editions of the Sunday Dallas Morning News. The boots were actually overshoes, which velcro-ed quite nicely over my ropers, and the issue beard was tossed in favour of something dug up by the Chief Dispatcher (who also did the wardrobe for the town theatre group), said dispatcher promptly gluing the beard to my face with some kind of clear adhesive which she assured me would come off quite easily once the performance was over.

Lying heifer.

Anyhoo, I pulled on the supplied mittens, extracted my 22-year-old-Sheltie from under the Dispatch desk (the ladies in the office had given her a Christmas-themed sweater, put bows on her ears and painted her toenails in sparkly red-and-green hues) and drove my cruiser over to the Fire Department.

The night before, our area of West Texas had received one of the rare pogonip fogs, which had rendered the entire area about as slick as a greased hockey rink.

I didn’t realize how slick everything was, until I wallowed out of the cruiser and slammed the door, which sent the cruiser sliding slowly about a foot left … and into the gutter.


Anyhoo, I rode the brand new pumper truck over to the courthouse, did the “Ho, ho, ho” thing, got my lap wore out, everyone exclaimed over my Sheltie and she suffered herself to have many, many pictures taken with various personages…a generally good day.

After the festivities, I discovered that the guys at the FD had been nice enough to pull my cruiser out of the rain gutter…twice.

I plunked the dog into the side seat, shoehorned myself behind the wheel and was gingerly inching my way home, when…

You guessed it.

The radio went off. Burglary in progress at one of the local churches.

I pull up to the church, and mindful of my experience at the Fire Station, I get out of the cruiser, but I don’t close the door.

Parked in front of the church is a pick-up truck, engine still running. Across the street is a little old gentleman with an absolutely huge mustache, holding a cordless phone and giving me the old hairy eyeball.

I immediately assume that the gentleman with the phone is most probably the Reporting Party, and I start to waddle across the street to get more information, when I notice that someone is in the act of walking from the front lawn of the church to the pick-up truck, and the person is carrying one of the figurines from the outdoor Nativity scene. This kind of strikes me as odd, so I holler, “Sheriff’s Office, may I have a word with you?”

The old boy heisting Joseph (or maybe one of the Wise Men – I never was real sure), immediately drops the purloined porcelain and takes off at a high-speed shuffle for the pick-up.

Deciding that I really, really wanted to have a talk with that critter, I also kick into (sorta) high gear for the truck.

He gets there first, snags onto the side mirror, pirouettes a couple of times and goes ass over tin cups onto the street —

— just before my feet abruptly kick out from under me and down I go. God bless the Dallas paper, I couldn’t have been better padded if NASA had given it a try. I roll over and start pushing myself to my feet, when the critter rights himself, glances over at me and starts a high-speed slide/crawl to the curb.

Once on the chapel yard, he finds (somewhat) better traction and abruptly takes off at a dead sprint, me breathing down his neck. At the corner, he pulls a sneaky. Since he hasn’t slowed, I figure we’re for a full sprint down the block, but he puts out an arm, grabs the guy-line for the telephone pole and makes an abrupt right turn. While this is, indeed, a good move, unfortunately it dumps him on his fourth point of contact and the critter slides a good 10 yards down the street.

Not having benefit of the guy-line, I turn right much like a battleship under full steam: I use the entire street and most of the yard across the street just to change direction, said extra room giving the afore-mentioned critter enough time to scramble to his feet and head back the way we came.

Apparently, I was still a bit too close for comfort because the critter ran past his pick-up without even slowing down. Which put him on a direct course for my cruiser. With the drivers side door open.

I could almost see the 25-watt bulb light up over his head as he Got An Idea. Visions of dog-napped Shelties suddenly coursed across my minds eye.

Not to mention the thought of having a fully-equipped Sheriff’s Office cruiser stolen out from under my nose, of course, but priorities and all.

Fortunately, my Sheltie chose that moment to daintily step into the driver seat, fix the approaching critter with a gimlet eye, and utter a short, sharp “Ah’m wee, but Ah’m wickit” bark — thus causing my critter to lock up the brakes, his legs shoot out from under him and he slides under my cruiser, slick as a pin.

My last desperate grab for the Manger Bandit cost me my balance, and I hit the ice, sliding along at full speed, and scrabbling frantically at the ice, because my visions of a dog-napped pooch had been replaced by visions of my over-loaded butt slamming into the cruiser and sliding the whole enchilada into the gutter — crushing my critter along the way.

By the grace of God, I narrowly missed my cruiser and slammed into the gutter — not as bad as it sounds, due to the extensive Santa padding — spun about and there is my critter, staring at from under the cruiser about ten feet away.

“Right then, boyo,” I snarled, “You’re nicked. Let’s go.”

My critter blinked at me in utter incomprehension. “What?”

“You’re under arrest. Let’s go.”

“No” sayeth the critter. Now it was my turn to blink in confusion. “What?” I snappily replied.

The critter turned over and got a couple of good handholds on the undercarriage of my cruiser. “Make me.”

I pushed myself to my feet and stomped over to the cruiser. “You’re under arrest.” I gritted through clenched teeth, “Get out from under there!”

“Work for it, fat man.”


I was digging past umpteen pillows and the Lifestyle section of the Dallas paper trying to lay a paw on my pepper-spray, when my gaze happened to land upon …

… it.

There. In all its glory. Not twenty feet from the front bumper of my cruiser. Left over from the heady Frontier Past of the city:

A horse trough.

I happily, one might even go so far as to say joyously, ambled up to said horse trough, peered over the side — and it was full of water, with only a three-inch thick crust of ice over the top.

I’ll have you know that I was wearing a full Santa Clause beard glued to my face, so anyone who testifies that I was “Grinning like an ape” as the stopper gave way is obviously mistaken.

I ambled back to the cruiser, watching my Very Own Tidal Wave creep down the gutter and said, gently, “Time to come out from under the car.”

“Don’t you have an elf to play with?”

“It would really be in your best interests to come out.”

“What are you going to do? Put coal in my sto — HOOOOoooo WHoooaaaa Ohohoho Haaaa! Haa! Huh-huh-huh!”

I tugged reflectively upon the beard. Yep. Between a combination of Panhandle winter wind and three quarts of glue, it was stuck but good. Under the cruiser the yodelling briefly died down to a series of gasps, but a sudden soprano shriek signaled, I thought, the infiltration of Polar water into the underwear area.

The impromptu yodel-fest died down to noises strongly reminiscent of a rapid-fire castanets, so I cleared my throat gently and remarked, “There’s hot coffee down at the jail, dry clothes and a warm bunk.”


“Or I could come chip you loose when the cold snap breaks. I figure, what? This time next week?”

A dripping, kind of blue-ish, vibrating-a-bit face appeared above the front quarter panel and stared accusingly at me.

“I d-d-didn’t n-n-nknow S-santa Cl-Clause was such-such a s-s-sumbitch.”

“Believe it. Into the back seat, Nanook. Let’s go put you into a nice warm cell.”


Normal? What's that?
I Was A Teenage Moonshiner, part one.

37 thoughts on “You’re stealing Baby Jesus?!”

  1. I may stop laughing by the time I wake up tomorrow.

    Cheers, LD. A little dose of the Christmas Spirit right there 😀

  2. Kind of reminds me of something from the Oh My Gods! webcomic… one of the FUTHARK kids saying something like, “And that wasn’t the first time I stole a baby Jesus lawn ornament from a manger…”

    Anyone who has a Sheltie gets a thumbs-up from me. Ours will be fourteen years old next month, and people still think he’s a Collie puppy.

  3. Actually, it proves that he’s actually managing to learn something from the Sheriff…I remember the story of Opal and the bug down her dress. 🙂

    Dave McCombs

  4. There is additional bright side to this tale… critter will have just as good a story as lawdog.

    I mean, arrested by Santa and a Sheltie with painted nails. It doesn’t get any more surreal.

  5. One of your best stories ever. I love the details… Thanks for a good laugh!


  6. This needs a warning label along the lines of:

    The following story should not be read while sipping hot coffee. Readers might find themselves in a difficult situation when the need to laugh is outweighed by the need not to spray coffee, but with both needs outweighed by the knowledge that attempts to swallow the coffee will result in burns down the windpipe.

  7. That story sounds very familiar. You sure you haven’t told that one already?

  8. That story sounds very familiar. You sure you haven’t told that one already?

    It was one I started, but never finished.

    Now it’s finished.

  9. I’m glad I learned to put my Dr. Pepper down before I open this blog! I was in a ponganyip like that last winter, and it was the only time I’ve ever seen all the big-rigs doing at or below the limit on the interstate.

  10. I love it when LawDog does slapstick. While slapstick is considered visual comedy, I defy anyone who just read this YSBJ post to claim that they don’t have a very clear picture of the incident in his head.

  11. “That story sounds very familiar. You sure you haven’t told that one already?

    It was one I started, but never finished.

    Now it’s finished.”

    Thank goodness, I thought I was losing my mind! And thank you for completing the story!

    We had a Sheltie stray onto our property a couple of months ago. As nobody claimed her, we’ve become quite attached. She is very patient and tolerated cutting off mats and burrs and a bath, but she doesn’t like anything on her head. Haven’t tried painting the toenails, though.

  12. Congrats, Lawdog, that definitely qualifies as my first birthday present today! And a damn fine one, too.

  13. Damn I’m glad you finally finished it. it was definitely worth the wait.

  14. “Work smarter, not harder” was never so funny!


    Now, what about the ape suit escapade?

    Snicker, snort!

  15. Thank you, sir, for a very good laugh (I’m still smiling). This post and its predecessor reminded me again why I started reading your blog a while back.

  16. Lawdog… the mind pictures were excellent… better than seeing it on Youtube!
    I loved your use of minimum force as well in getting the goblin out from under the cruiser!

  17. Thanks for the laugh-out-loud tale of good Christmas cheer. It warmed the little cockroaches of my heart!

  18. Wow.. that was an awesome story! I’m going to post that up in my Headquarters..


  19. That was one of the funniest stories I’ve read, Lawdog, you should write a book. I am still laughing.

  20. Hey, LD…Don’t know if you got my email, but I wanted to give you the prestigious ROFL award for this post. I’m supposed to send you the award button on TUesday. Could you contact me and let me know if you’ve received my email and where to send the HTML info?
    You definitely deserve this award…because you constantly make me ROFL!!

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  22. Your pardon Senor Lawdog, would you mind reposting the story about the Salvation Army Bell Ringer. Who upon being accosted by local street talent, and ended up getting the pot he demanded, up side the head?

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