Heard Around the West


A reader swears he's seen this bumper sticker: "Support gun control or I'll kill you." At the recent sheepdog trials in Meeker, Colo., top-selling signs for the rears of vehicles included: "My border collie is smarter than your honor student," and "If it's not a border collie, it's just a dog." But for the first time at the Meeker Classic, a handful of those scarily intense animals were disqualified for biting the sheep they were trying to round up. "This never happened before," an organizer told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. "The sheep were tough, and the dogs were frustrated." But Meg, the border collie who took the field first, effortlessly moved a band of sheep around while responding to commands from Melinda Hanley of Kentucky. Meg and her trainer took home a $2,500 prize.

The gonzo vegetarians of PETA have done it again - paid for in-your-face messages attacking meat-eaters, on highway billboards in the West. Only this time, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals connects a carnivorous diet to fat people who spill over their assigned seats on airplanes. In El Paso, Texas, PETA paid for a billboard that shows a man's huge and naked belly along with the text: "Don't pay for two seats. Go vegetarian." The ads were inspired by Southwest Airlines' new policy targeting obese people. The airline now states that anyone who has to lift an armrest to be comfortable "probably should purchase the extra ticket," reports The Associated Press. PETA's campaign doesn't come cheap: Billboards in El Paso and Albuquerque are costing the group $100,000.

Meanwhile, in Utah, billboards promoting polygamy are annoying Mormons. The billboards along Interstate 15 near Bountiful show the somber faces of Mormon pioneers and the slogan: "More than One: Plural Marriage * A Sacred Pioneer Heritage." The billboards advertise a self-published book by Shane and Rhonda Whelan, who say they had to take extreme measures to reach the public because every Mormon publisher rejected their book. Shane Whelan says the couple is already working on a new book about polygamy, though they told the AP it won't take up the subject of polyandry, the marriage of one woman to several men. "That is certainly not what God intended," Whelan says.

It was bad enough that Jeffrey Scheu, 36, was severely mauled by a grizzly bear near West Yellowstone, Mont., while trying to protect bison; what was worse was having his battered face appear in newspapers all over the country. Now, Scheu, an animal-rights activist who goes by the name Jesshua Amun, will be returned to Ohio where he is wanted on multiple charges for failing to pay child support, reports the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

Golf courses do not need to be water hogs. The AP reports that there's a safe green paint that can be sprayed on greens to give them that emerald shine. What's more, the water-based paint doesn't seem to harm the grass and lasts for about a month. Paint might replace some of the weird remedies desperate homeowners are trying, such as pouring beer and soda over grass or injecting water-absorbing polymer pellets into the turf. A Parker, Colo., man boasts that his beer-based mixture reduced water consumption by 2,000 gallons a month. His recipe: Mix a can of beer, a can of soda and a half-cup each of liquid ammonia, liquid soap and mouthwash; then pour on the yellow grass.

Since when is a ponytail a disqualification for public office? Colorado's Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell sports one, and so does an ardent environmentalist in Idaho, Democrat Bill Chisholm, reports the AP. But Chisholm's Republican opponent for state Senate, Tom Gannon, told a rally at Twin Falls: "They say there are only three places where a ponytail should be seen: on the cheerleader squad, on the girls' basketball team or behind a horse."

And since when is "edgy" just plain asinine? In an attempt to lure the younger set to Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado, ads designed for trendy magazines blared: "Each night, a new chance to earn your balls back," and the ad that generated the most huffiness: "The hill may dominate you. But the town will still be your bitch." Below these headlines appeared scenes of hilarity with twenty-somethings falling over each other while opening their mouths wide in what appears to be manic excitement. Still, it was the language that alienated the older set, even though the ads were never meant for general consumption. "It was time to kill this thing. It was getting to the point that people were canceling their Breckenridge vacations," said Sam Mamula, the mayor of Breckenridge, reports the Aspen Times. Though Vail Resorts, the company that owns the Breckenridge ski area, pulled the ads after only a few days, several magazines for Gen-Xers were said to have included the ads in their October editions.

Betsy Marston is the editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado ([email protected]). She appreciates timely tips on Western doings for Heard around the West.

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