A Doggone Nightmare

TO WIT

August 08, 1993|By DAVE BARRY

Home security. These are two words that we all should have engraved on our brains, especially in light of the terrifying,

Stephen-King-esque nightmare that was experienced recently by Judy and Tom Bondurant of Fredericksburg, Va.

I learned about this nightmare via a letter I received from Sarah Moser, an alert 12-year-old neighbor of the Bondurants. Sarah put me in touch with Judy and Tom, who told me their chilling story:

It was about 1:30 a.m., and the Bondurants were asleep in their second-floor bedroom. Judy was not sleeping soundly, however, because her foot had been bitten by a chigger, and in an effort to keep it (the foot) comfortable, she was dangling it off the bed, outside of the sheets.

She was lying there, feeling uncomfortable, when she felt it. Something was touching her foot. "It was something wet," she recalled.

She yanked her foot under the sheets and opened her eyes. There, in the gloom, she saw it.

"It was a shape," she said. "A big shape."

Judy decided to draw this to Tom's attention via the following statement: "Eeeeeeeeeeeee!" She then leaped out of the left side of the bed and attempted to exit the room, which was a sound plan, except that she tried to execute it by clawing her way directly through a wall.

Meanwhile, over on the right-hand side of the bed, Tom could not help but notice that, (a) Judy was screaming, and (b) his foot was touching something.

"It was a furry thing," he recalled. Tom did not scream. No sir. It does no good to panic in a situation like that. What Tom did was leap out of the right side of the bed and run directly into Judy's collection of cactus plants, thus knocking them over; then charge through a screen door, thus wrecking it; and then stumble to a stop just before hurtling off the second-floor balcony.

Meanwhile Judy, still up against the wall, had located a light switch. She turned it on.

Now they both could see what was in their bedroom.

It was standing on their bed. It was big. It was yellow.

It was wagging its tail.

It was a Labrador retriever. Happy to be there.

Judy and Tom had never seen it before. They don't have any pets.

"We left the room very cautiously," Judy said. The dog stayed on the bed. (Why not?)

Tom and Judy went downstairs and determined that the dog had nosed open their unlocked front door. They went outside and sat quietly on the front porch for several minutes, thinking about the situation.

Finally, Tom had an insight, the kind of insight that you sometimes have when you're trying to solve a complex problem, and you suddenly realize that the answer has been staring you in the face all along.

"We have to get the dog out of the bedroom," he said.

Tom was able to accomplish this by luring the dog outside with a pork chop. The Bondurants then went back to bed, only to discover, the next morning, that the dog was still hanging around outside. (Why not? There were pork chops here!)

The Bondurants decided they liked the dog. "He was very friendly," said Judy. "An Old Yeller type of dog," said Tom.

They got some dog food and started feeding him; they were thinking about keeping him. They even thought of a name: "Cardiac." But then they saw a newspaper classified ad referring to a lost dog that looked like this one. They contacted the owners, and sure enough, it was the same dog.

His name was Charley, and he had run off during a thunderstorm. Apparently he wandered to the Bondurants' house, found the door open, went up to the bedroom, and decided, based on sniffing Judy's foot, that these would be good people to live with for the next eight or 12 years. Dogs are very informal this way.

So anyway, Charley went back to his owners, and the Bondurants are thinking about getting a dog. (Why not?) For the rest of us, there are three major Home Security lessons to be learned from this story:

1. Every home should be equipped -- and this advice comes from the National Association of Chiefs of Police, in conjunction with the American Pig Farming Council -- with a licensed and registered pork chop.

2. You should keep an eye on those chigger bites, because they can become infected.

3. "Cardiac" is a great name for a dog.

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