Biff America: Woman finds the dog of her dreams
Vail CO Colorado
“Where is your little dog?”
Ellen and I have been asked that question hundreds of time in the last six months. Time has allowed the answer to be a little less painful.
“He died last Christmas.” I said, “He was killed by a coyote while we were all skiing together.” My mate and I lost Robby, our pet of 10 years last December; we are still torn-up.
The woman who asked was named Ilene or Irene; she is missing two front teeth which make her introductions unclear.
I’ll call her Irene because it is easier to spell.
Irene is a campground host in Northern California. Every year in early May she pulls her small trailer to the Inyo National Forest and stays for the summer. Her duties are to collect money, clean and to keep order. She doesn’t own the campground; I’m not even sure she gets paid. She dresses like she is of modest means and obviously does not spend much cash on dental care.
My mate and I have never actually stayed in Irene’s campground; we go there to steal water. First it was stealing – then Irene caught us and said it was OK.
The fact that Irene’s campground charged money was not the only reason we didn’t stay there. Mostly it was that we like more privacy and that we like to camp at a much higher elevation closer to where we can backcountry ski.
During May, Ellen and I head to the Sierras to ski and bike. Over the years we’ve gotten to know a few of the locals, Irene being one of them.
Finding places to get drinking water is always a hassle while camping. We have a small RV and with cooking, cleaning and an occasional shower we go through a few gallons a day; every four or five days we need to refill.
During summer you can often get water in town parks or even from outdoor faucets on municipal buildings. Summer comes late in the mountains when we are there, and those spigots are turned off.
Irene’s campground is located just between the mountains where we ski and the desert where we bike; it is a great place to steal water.
Technically I think you are supposed to be a campground customer to take water. The first time Irene caught us was a few years ago. It was the middle of the day and no one seemed to be around so we slid in and filled up a six-gallon jug. Irene cruised over on a three-wheeled bicycle with a little dog in the back.
Her dog – not sure if its name was Scoot or Scout– and our dog, Robby, became friends right away, as did Ellen, Irene and I. She told us we could take as much water as we liked and come back anytime. Since then we would stop in to get water and visit when we were in the area – as recently as a couple of weeks ago.
It was while telling her about the loss of Robby when I noticed that Scoot/Scout was no where to be seen. I asked, “Where’s Sco … Where’s your dog?”
Irene told us that her dog also died last winter.
“He died in his sleep lying right next to me. The neighbors heard me screaming two trailers away.” It then dawned on me that Irene must live in her little trailer year round.
While I filled our water, I reflected that however hard it was for Ellie and me to lose a pet we loved, it must have been worse for Irene since she is alone.
“Are you going to get another dog?” I asked.
Irene lisped, “Scott thinks I should, but I don’t know.”
She looked at me like I was crazy, “Scott, my dog – he comes to me in my dreams – climbs right up onto the bed,” Irene continued, “Scott told me that I should get another dog – he recommends one from the pound. He also told me to stop smoking.”
“Are you going to follow his advice?” I asked.
“I’m going to wait to get another dog. No dog could take Scott’s place. But I have cut back from a pack to only five butts a day.”
Just before we left I gave Irene a hug and said, “Both of us are so sorry for your loss. Scott was a wonderful dog.” Irene wiped a tear from her eye and said, “I’ll tell him you said that.”
The thought that Irene actually is visited by her lost pet defies all logic and rational thought. Luckily, faith and love are not bound by earthly constraints. But the sad truth is, some of us have faith and others are relegated to simply write about it.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or from http://www.webersbooks.com
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