Animals are a part of my life in Anchorage, human and the other, friendlier kind. I am fond of telling visitors that if you want to see big mammals, you’ll have a
better chance in the city than heading for the parks. That contention was no
more true than last summer. While slumbering with my earplugs and eyeshades on,
I suddenly sensed an elbow in my back.
“Do you hear that dog?”
“The dog. Do you hear that barking?”
That barking was coming from my wife. The bark that must be obeyed. Removing my earplugs, I heard the plaintive cry of a left-alone dog. I slipped into some sweats,
grabbed my glasses and went to investigate. Around the block I found the
suspect house with the abandoned dog belting his staccato cries across the
common area into the bedroom windows of a hundred sleep-deprived residents. I
went around the back and saw the Australian Shepherd with his nose pressed up
against the screen. He saw me and stood up with a hopeful look on his face,
which disappeared as soon as he realized I wasn’t his owner.
Nobody home. Of course not. It was Friday at midnight and the residents were, no doubt, enjoying a bubbly libation on the way to the Russian River for a weekend
of combat fishing. Great. At this point, my blood pressure rising, I dialed
animal control and got their voice mail with a menu of places to which nobody
wants to go. Finally, on “Dial seven for after hours emergencies,” I got a
connection to a human.
“What’s the nature of your emergency?”
“I’ve got a barking dog here at 8534 Cross Pointe Loop and it’s keeping us up.”
“Well, I'll leave a message for the technicians and they’ll send a letter to the owners.”
“When will that happen?”
“Probably not until Monday.”
“Yes…uuh there’s not a full crew until Monday. Sorry.”
Sorry. Everybody’s sorry, but they can never seem to fix the problem. Being a dog owner myself, I wasn’t inclined to kill the lonely pooch… just the owners. It
looked like it was going to be a long night.
Just as I flipped the phone closed, I heard a loud “thunk”! Hmm. I wondered what it could be this late. A second later I gazed at the source of the commotion. Half
a block down, a young black bear was lifting a white plastic garbage bag out of
a sky blue garbage can and cavorting with it like he had just found a barrel of
uncontested fish guts. Hanging from his mouth he swung his prize from side to
side alerting whomever wanted or didn’t want to know, that he was king of this
He made a diagonal beeline from the street to the 10-foot gap between two houses as if anticipating some contest for his filthy lucre. I carefully crept
down the sidewalk on the other side of the street where I could observe him
quietly without spooking him. By this time, other residents had heard the
commotion and drapes and blinds were being peeled back revealing the
slumber-drugged faces of a fast growing audience.
One of the residents of the homes lucky enough to be in the immediate presence of this show made a noise that alerted the black bruin and he bolted for the
fence bordering the yard and the wilderness beyond. The last thing I saw was a
rear paw breaking off the dog ear of one of the cedar boards as his rumbling rear dropped out of sight.
Exhaling, I headed for home. Along the way, I realized that the shepherd’s vocals had ceased.
Quietly, I slipped back into bed, careful not to rustle the bruin in my bed. No matter.
“Where were you?”
“It took a while. There was a bear.”