Like many of us in Grand County, living on the edge of the wilderness, my wife and I live under the threat of becoming a snack for some marauding bear while we’re basting chicken wings on the barbecue or pulling weeds from the garden. Every day you read about some poor indigenous hillbilly getting mauled by a moose, badgered by a bear or chomped by a cougar.

So the other night, just as I stepped out the door, a huge black shape charged at me out of the darkness of the garage. I was terrified. Don’t you think my wife would excuse me for squealing like a schoolgirl? Apparently that thought never crossed her mind.

When it comes to our two rescue mutts, Freeta Goodhome, who is one stenchful basset hound, and Surely who snores like a buzz saw, we love them but we’re also realists. We gave up long ago thinking they would ever bring our slippers or fetch the newspaper without chewing 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 isn’t that tough on them.  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, careening off the walls, howling like berserkers, finally arriving long after the squirrel departed. Standing in their pen with no squirrel, they forget why they ran downstairs. So they head 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 rainy nights ago, we pinned a stray dog in the headlights standing morosely in front of the garage . . . hey! That’s no stray, that’s Freeta.  How’d she get out? The poor mutt was drenched and terrified, probably in fear of losing her spot on the bed upstairs.  

I obviously had left the back door open because the wife obviously had not. I had to endure the glare with reminders of how lucky I was that “something bad” didn’t happen. What if she’d gotten run over by a Schwann’s Truck? Attacked by a skunk? Dognapped?   

I pointed out that none of those awful things happened; the stupid mutt was fine, just damp and smelling a bit like a two-day-old mackerel.

Last night a familiar voice wafted up the stairs, “Is Freeta up there?” I looked around, nope. I checked the bathroom, the closet, the bedrooms, the deck and the bathroom again.

I headed into the garage to get the car so I could check the ditches and the railroad tracks before being told to. I flipped on the light just as a huge black shape lurched toward me. Terrified, I squealed like a six-year-old! It was several breathless moments before I realized it was the stupid basset rolling around in the bottom of a trash bag where she’d burrowed, savoring the final tidbits of the week’s garbage.

Just one more drawback to life in paradise.