As for that bear …

I led you on. There wasn’t actually a bear. Or rather, there was no VISUAL CONFIRMATION of said bear. Here’s how it went.

I’m asleep. Deeply asleep. The dogs are sleeping, as they do, on the floor right beside the bed, as in AS CLOSE to the bed as they can possibly make themselves. The moon is obscured by clouds or smoke (we have forest fires all around) or maybe it’s a new moon, but whatever the cause, it’s dark. Not that I know this yet because I am ASLEEP. Until …

Muzz leaps up, bellowing, and runs directly into the half-shut bedroom door trying to get out. Jumbo follows suit. Claws tear across the floor as they skid around the corner and clamor down the stairs, bawling and snarling all the way.

I, of course, fall out of bed. I reach for the clock, which reads 3:45. Still trying to figure out what state I’m in, I stumble to the window, but as I explained before, it’s a black, impenetrable night. I yell for the dogs. Nothing. I yell again. I yell and yell and yell. No dogs.

Now, I know it’s probably an animal (and not, say, a serial killer) that has inspired this ruckus, but as you know, I’m in Wyoming. That animal could very well be a grizzly bear. Which means, obviously, the only thought in my mind is that A GRIZZLY BEAR MIGHT HURT MY DOGS. I also tear down the stairs. And fall again. Just a little bit.

I can’t see anything, so I turn on the garage light. Now I can see approximately six inches in all directions. I stand at the door yelling until finally the dogs come back. But they don’t bounce back, delighted with the excellent trick they’ve played on me. Their hackles are up. Their heads are low. They move slowly, deliberately, nostrils flared. I BEG them inside and close the door behind them. I lock it. Twice, like I have sudden-onset OCD.

I cajole the dogs into following me upstairs, but they will have nothing of going back to bed. The next two hours, I lie in bed, listening to them pace and growl, punctuated by occasional cantankerous bouts of barking. Finally at 5:45, when I feel like it’s an appropriate enough time in Connecticut, I call Joe.

“For heaven’s sake, what the HELL is wrong with your dogs?”

Joe doesn’t hesitate. “A bear was rolling through. Bears stink. Drives’em crazy.”

“Well, I know you like to keep the doors open so the dogs can get out, but I’m kind of done with that. Okay?”

“Oh yeah, definitely. You can close the doors.”

I cannot describe to you how completely unruffled he is.

“Okay. Well, I’m not just going to shut the doors. I’m going to LOCK them.”

“What you need to do is go back to bed. You sound awful.”

Thanks, Joe. Thanks a super lot.

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