I started writing a "Footnotes" column in 1974 at my first newspaper job in Gillette, Wyo. I wrote about current events, news and personal items and kept writing the column at several of the newspapers I worked at, the last being newspapers in Castle Rock in the early 2000's.

I hope some day to put together a collection of some of my favorites. Below is an example.


Pet patrol.

It's time to inflict upon the readers of this column an update on one of the great frustrations in my life -- my pets.

Believe it or not, I have had some requests for such an update. In the past I have written -- far too much, some would say -- about the trials and tribulations of dealing with an out-of-control dog, a toothless cat, and a school of fish with no pond in which to swim.

First the fish. When I moved out of my home last winter I had about a dozen goldfish in a small pond. Some of them had lived in the pond for years. My oldest was about 8 years old and about six inches long.

We put them all in a tub and moved to a temporary house just about the time we got a severe cold snap. By the time I got them some protection, two of them had turned into ice cubes.

We then moved them to our new house and kept changing the water and feeding them in their tub home. This summer I built a pond in the back yard, bigger than the last one, complete with waterfall and rocks and landscaping.

Just about the time I was ready to move them to the pond, I also was headed out on vacation. I'm afraid I rushed it a bit and all but two died when put in the pond -- probably from chlorine poisoning. Now I have two large gold fish and half dozen others growing up in a new home. A story with some tragedy, but a happy ending.

Toothless cat Tickles continues to harass us with his need for service. After the cat box and the feeding, however, Tickles is little trouble and now turning into a favorite in the family.

Tickles lost his best friend when our daughter went to college. They used to do a lot of cuddling. Funny, we thought he had no need for that. We know better, now. Every time we sit on the couch, we hear a quiet meow and Tickles is on our laps.

He seems to need the attention more that we thought.

Out of control Copper is still out of control, but still part of our family.

All of the efforts to control Copper, an 80-pound hound dog, could fill a book. Just let me say that after hundreds of dollars spent on fencing, radio collars and other devices, we still are looking for the answer.

After building a five-foot fence, and re-installing the radio collar fence so he gets a shock, I thought I had the answer. He could not get close enough to the fence to get in position to jump over without getting a shock. That did keep him in.

One problem. Now he is very unhappy and barking enough to bring threats against his life. "If you can't keep your dog from barking, your neighbors WILL." WILL was underlined three times and we took it as a death threat.

We don't know who sent the note, but considering how well Copper is known throughout the neighborhood because of all his rambling, it could be anyone, or a whole posse out to get him.

Back to the pet store we went and $50 later we had a shock collar designed discourage him from barking. The first try at this didn't work because the collar goes off every time he moves.

So Copper is still a project. After all this trouble, and especially after the threats on his life, I think I'm beginning to have some feelings for this troublesome mutt.

Some night I dream of what it would be like with no animals to worry about or care for. Pretty boring, I bet.


Richard Bangs is editor of the Douglas County News-Press.