by Deann Davidson
Tinker the miniature horse knows lots of tricks that make people smile. His owner, Carol Tackas, has trained him well over the past 22 years. Most of the time Tinker enjoys a quiet life, but when Christmastime rolls around he puts his skills to work ringing bells at red kettles.
“I believe in The Salvation Army with all my heart,” said Carol, who came up with the idea to teach Tinker to ring a bell after putting money into a red kettle several years ago. She spent the next couple years training him and helping him get used to large groups of people so that she could volunteer with him.
After 10 years of service, Tinker has become a tradition that families in Southeast Wisconsin look for when doing their holiday shopping. His friend Ta’lu’la, a small, adorable pup, joins in as well, riding on Tinker’s back and helping to spread the Christmas cheer.
Tinker loves the attention he gets from his fans, especially the children who give him hugs and pats on their way in and out of the shops. No matter what kind of day someone is having, Tinker ringing the bell with Ta’lu’la sitting atop him always brings a smile.
“It’s just automatic smiles. It’s truly a dog and pony show,” said Carol. “Having people come up and say, ‘Thank you so much for doing this’ and giving to The Salvation Army is just a thrill.”