Battle-ready dogs, badly behaved dogs and one pup hardened by an encounter with the wilderness.

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

  • COLORADO “They wouldn’t dare.”

    Lissa Howe

It’s almost a rule: If you live in the rural West, you need a dog, preferably a big dog like a Lab, ideally a rescue mutt. Some dogs relish posing in the beds of pickups, noses elevated to sniff the wind; others run barking back and forth along fences, desperate to break free and chase after deer or perhaps bring down the occasional cyclist. Then there are the small-town dogs who think they own the alleys, and like to pick on newbie dogs. Two years ago, Ruth Pettigrew moved to Hotchkiss in western Colorado, population 1,400, in part because it bills itself as the “friendliest town around.” To her surprise, she discovered a pattern of unfriendliness when she and her leashed pets encountered other canines in town, she told the North Fork Merchant Herald. “My own dogs have been attacked three times — unprovoked — all by dogs that were without supervision,” she reports. This led to her neighbors offering lots of suggestions- for avoiding a fourth doggy dustup. But their advice seemed peculiar, ranging from “get bigger dogs” and “carry a weapon,” to “drive elsewhere,” or keep her dogs “inside a fence.” So Pettigrew realized it wasn’t enough for her to walk her own dogs to keep fit; she (and her dogs) needed to be in “combat-fitness” shape already. What does the well-dressed dog walker wear when expecting trouble from aggressive dogs? Pettigrew suggests that you and your dogs don Kevlar bulletproof vests, strap Tasers and Mace to your arms, and hang a bat or club from a belt. And wear steel-toed boots on your feet — it’s a jungle out there.

Maybe it’s a trend: “Dog owners have been behaving badly” on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide. Their bad behavior involves letting pets go off-leash, with the result that running-around dogs bit five people walking on trails during just one month. Wandering dogs ignore hikers if there’s nearby wildlife to hassle, though sometimes this doesn’t end well: “Three moose trampled a terrier to death.” Then there’s the “dog poop problem,” caused by dog owners who can’t be bothered to collect a canine contribution on the trail. A leash law looks like it’s in the offing, though a town-county task force first intends to study that and other possibilities.

A jet pilot who flew so low through western Colorado that he sheared off seven power lines, sending them snapping into traffic on Interstate 70, was identified several months later by the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel as Brian Evans, 45, a consultant for U.S. “expeditionary forces.” After the accident, which damaged three cars, Evans wanted to know why the cables he -severed were “unmarked.” He should have known the answer: He was flying about 100 feet off the ground, well below the Federal Aviation Administration limit of 500 feet. In his narrative of the accident for the National Transportation Safety Board, Evans described his unfortunate- ride in oddly cinematic terms. Surprises were constant as he raced along at a brisk 287 miles per hour: “There were small and large canyons forming while on this course …” and “as I rolled out, the river continued in front of me …” Then “A split second before impact, I saw cables, wires or power lines in front of the aircraft. Before I could react, the aircraft struck these wires.” There’s no word on whether Evans faces any consequences for his reckless flight.

“It is a mistake to ever over-estimate the ignorance of the Idaho Legislature,” herpetologist Frank Lundberg told The Associated Press. He had just testified in support of a bill designating the Idaho giant salamander — a foot-long amphibian found only in the state — as “state amphibian,” but once again, the bill failed to pass. Some Republican representatives feared that state recognition would lure the federal government into declaring the endemic animal “endangered.” But Ilah Hickman, a disappointed 14-year-old who has tried for years to get a bill passed, vowed to keep pushing until a bill “either passes or I can’t get hearings again.” She’s up against entrenched negativity. Republican Rep. Ken Andrus, for example, explained his “no” vote by recalling his childhood: “(Salamanders) were ugly, they were slimy, and they were creepy. And I’ve not gotten over that. So to elevate them to the status of being the state amphibian — I’m not there yet.”

All’s well that ended well for Jade, the Australian shepherd pup that bolted from a car accident in Yellowstone National Park. The 15-month-old dog was lost for 42 days but finally found close to a park road by his still-recuperating owner, David Sowers. Fifteen pounds lighter, the skinny- dog apparently survived by eating -roadkill, reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide.

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