Friday, September 2, 2011


Maybe I’m too easily spooked, but a couple things happened last week that made me feel uneasy.

First of all, I was getting the lawnmower out of the garage when I happened to notice that on the back window, which faces the fenced-in yard, there was a big handprint on the glass. I rubbed it from the inside and nothing happened, so I went outside to see if it could be rubbed off from that side.

The land drops down beneath that window, so I barely could reach it. I finally managed to rub off a small part of the bottom of the print. I dashed back into the house.

“There’s a big handprint on the outside of the garage window!” I breathlessly told my husband.

“Well, don’t blame me,” he said. “I haven’t touched any windows!”

“I haven’t either!” I said. “So that must mean someone’s been trying to break into our garage!”

“Maybe one of the dogs did it,” he said, his tone unconcerned.

“The dogs even don’t have any fingers to leave fingerprints with! And they’d have to be six feet tall to reach that window!”

“That handprint probably has been there since the windows were put in,” he said. “Maybe you just never noticed it before.”

“But that was three years ago! I know my eyes aren’t great, but I’m pretty sure I’d have spotted a handprint on the window. Wouldn’t you have seen it, too?”

He shrugged. “I never look at the garage windows.”

So there I was, thinking we had a peeping Tom with big hands, while my husband figured it was either the dogs doing trampoline-like leaps at the window, or some fat-handed window installer who’d left his mark three years ago.

That night, when I finally managed to stop wondering about the mysterious handprint, something strange happened. Our two dogs really love a treat called bully sticks, so occasionally I will buy them one. Bully sticks are similar to rawhide chews, but they are made from the part of the bull that...well, um...looks like a stick.

I had been in a store earlier that day and spotted something I hadn’t seen before – braided bully sticks formed into figure-8 shapes. I bought a couple, thinking the dogs would be thrilled with them.

When I gave my special treats to the dogs that night, all I can say is their reaction wasn’t exactly the wags of appreciation I’d anticipated.

They took the treats from me, then almost simultaneously, spit them out, backed away from them and growled, the fur standing up on the backs of their necks.

My husband stared at them, then at me. “What the heck’s in those things anyway?”

I grabbed one of the wrappers and read it. It said the sticks were made of 100 percent free-range beef from Brazil.

At that point, both dogs slowly approached the bully sticks again, one cautious step at a time. When Willow reached hers, she grabbed it in her teeth and then flung it halfway down the hallway and barked at it. Raven picked up hers and shook it as if she were trying to kill it.

“Are you sure the wrapper doesn’t list one of the ingredients as cat?” my husband asked.

I’d never seen the dogs act that way toward any treat before. At one point, Willow crept up on the bully stick again, sniffed it, jumped straight up in the air then bolted down to the laundry room and hid. Raven stood growling at hers as she intermittently whacked it with her paw. I was beginning to think something was alive in the sticks, but knowing the part of the bull they came from, I sure hoped there wasn’t.

Raven, panting and growling, worked herself into such a frenzy trying to kill her treat, I finally decided I’d better pick up the bully sticks and get rid of them before she suffered cardiac arrest. I shoved the sticks into the trash and immediately tied up the bag. Then, feeling uneasy about what was in them that had made the dogs so frightened, I took the trash right out to the garage.

Maybe whatever was so scary in those bully sticks will protect the garage from the big-handed window-touching guy if he ever decides to come back.

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