de Vos – Let sleeping bears lie
Fraser, CO Colorado
It seems like the Bears of Grand County have finally gone to bed for the winter. If you think about it, hibernation has a lot of appeal. Go to bed in the fall, wake up in the spring.
Sure, you’d miss winter sports, but you’d also miss folks driving through town in a rear-wheel Town Car chained up on the front. You’d miss cozy nights beside the fireplace and you’d miss the downdrafts that fill the house up with smoke. Hmm, note to self: List all the pluses and minuses before donating to Hibernation Research.
Like many of us in Grand County, living on the edge of the wilderness, my wife and I dwell in dread of becoming a snack for some marauding bear while we’re basting Buffalo chicken wings on the backyard barbecue. Every day you read about some poor mountain yokel getting mauled by a moose, badgered by a bear or munched by a mountain lion.
So the other night, just as I stepped out the back door, a huge black shape charged at me out of the darkness of the garage. Don’t you think my wife would excuse me for squealing like a schoolgirl? Well, she didn’t.
When it comes to our two dogs, Freeta Goodhome, the basset hound, and Cuervo, the licker, I admit that I’m occasionally tempted to project one of them into a lunar orbit off the toe of my boot. We love our dogs, but we gave up long ago thinking they would bring our slippers or fetch the newspaper without ripping it to smithereens. On the plus side, they wag when we walk into the room.
They don’t run loose in our neighborhood, but it’s not a tough life. From the upstairs safety of their Select-Comfort bed, they stand on tiptoe, shredding the curtains to see if there are squirrels in their pen. There are always squirrels in their pen. So they blast downstairs, arriving long after the squirrel departed. Standing in their pen, they forget why. Then they wander back upstairs to be sure nobody’s messed with their sleep number. They do this eleven hundred times a day.
Turning into the driveway a couple of nights ago, we pinned a stray dog in the headlights . . . hey! That’s no stray, that’s our dog, Freeta Goodhome. How’d she get out? The poor mutt was wet and terrified, probably in fear of losing her spot on the gravy train.
I obviously left the back door open because the wife obviously hadn’t. I had to endure “the glare” with reminders of how lucky I was that “something bad” hadn’t happened. What if she’d run off to become a Schwann’s Truck Groupie? Followed a skunk? Run over by a bus? Dognapped? Yeah, right.
I pointed out that none of those awful things happened, the stupid mutt was fine, just damp and smelling a bit like day-old fish.
Last night a familiar voice wafted up the stairs, “Is Freeta up there?” I looked around, nope. I checked the bathroom, the closet, the bedroom, the deck and the bathroom again.
I headed to the garage to get the car to check the ditches and the railroad tracks before being told to. As I flipped on the light, a huge black shape lurched toward me and I squealed in terror! It was several breathless moments before I realized the stupid mutt had knocked over a trash can and burrowed to the bottom of a trash bag, where she was rolling around, savoring the final tidbits of the week’s garbage.
I wonder if I could teach her to hibernate. Maybe if I led by example.
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