Mary, what can I say? You've done so much for me over the years! (Not to mention all the horrid things you have done to me over the years!) But of course, I am sure that particular charge is a two-way street. And today, I plan to prove it!
There is the matter of the time that a bear ate Schatzie!
It was on a cool and foggy morning in the Blue Ridge Mountains where my family was camping one summer. Dad, Denis, and I were down at the bath house shaving. (Well, I say that we were shaving, in truth, Dad was shaving. Denis and I had been given empty safety razors - just the case, no blade - and a can of shaving cream. We were going wild smearing the lather all over our faces and trying to imitate daddy as we scraped the white foam off our faces. But I digress.)
All of the sudden, a plaintiff wail was heard through the windows of the bath house. "Daddy!" The voice was that of my sister. Dad ran to the door of the bath house and saw Mary standing on the step sobbing. "Daddy! A bear ate Schatzie!" She was in tears.
Now, normally, seeing my sister in tears (or any of the various cousins that I had seen cry for that matter) would have sent me into gales of laughter. But this was no laughing matter! My sister had just informed us that our beloved Daschund was no more. Or rather she was, but was soon to be bear poop! Denis and I (as I recall) started bawling as well.
Somehow, Dad got the three of us quieted down long enough for Mary to impart her tale. It seemed that Mary had heard strange noises outside the camper while she was sleeping; grunting and the rattle of the dog's tags. Later, she had gotten up and, seeing that Dad, Denis and I were gone, she had decided to go to sit by the fire until we returned. When she did, she noticed that the dog was no longer tied to the tongue of the camper trailer ash she had been last night when we all went to bed. She went to investigate and discovered that the leash and collar were still there, but there were signs of a scuffle, the leaves and pine needles had all be brushed clear of the area. The dog was gone. No sign of her remained.
The four of us returned to the campsite to investigate, and the scene was as Mary had described. Looking in the trailer to see that Mom and Chip were still asleep, we set off as a group to look for Schatzie.
For the next hour, we searched the campground, we went down all the trails, we asked the few campers we saw up at that early morning hour. Nobody had seen our beloved Schatzie. When it appeared that all was lost, Daddy explained that she had probably just gone hunting and that she would be back soon enough. We, glumly, returned to camp to tell Mom and Chip what had happened.
Daddy stepped into the camper first and burst out laughing. The three of us followed and saw what was so funny. There was a strange movement coming from Chip's sleeping bag. The dog was repositioning herself to get more comfortable; only the tip of her nose sticking out the top of the bag as she lay there between my baby brother and my mom.
Chip had, apparently, gotten cold in the early morning hours and since he didn't know how to work the hook on the leash or unbuckle her collar, he had simply slipped the collar over her head. The ruckus as he had tried to free her had caused the noise and the clearing of the ground under the trailer. Ever since, she had been blithely snoozing cradled in my baby brother's arms.
I hope that wherever you are today, you are safe, cozy, warm, and haven't been eaten by a bear.
Don Bergquist - 20th June 2006 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA