Living in the wilds of Montana you are taught to be aware of and prepared for grizzly bears, black bears, mountain lions, you might even run into a wolverine, and there special bone-crushing teeth! You see the videos on proper food storage, you know what to do if you see one of these critters on the trail. But living in a tipi in someones backyard I've quickly discovered there is a whole in outdoor preparedness education. His name is Shadow, his species is domesticated house dog.
Shadow is one of the three dogs owned by the property owners where I am graciously allowed to set up my tipi. One dog stays in the house all day, another, Beck, greets me at my car from time to time, The tiny Chihuahua hops in my car as I open the door, licking me up and down. Then there is Shadow. Shadow is an old dog, a terrier something mix, or maybe not, I don't know much about dogs. He's small, small enough to get into my tipi where I have yet to finish the liner extending all the way to the ground. The first couple weeks Shadow had no interest in me. Then I built a fire pit, which meant I started cooking food. I presume Shadow to be both partially if not mostly blind and deaf but he has an uncanny sense of smell.
Minutes after I finished cleaning up the dishes from my first meal (he's very polite and would never barge in on me while cooking) prepared over the camp fire in the tipi I hear the jingling of bells and the sounds of little sniffs. I pop my head out the door and see shadow hanging around my solar sink/shower, where I have just done my dishes. Then he does a loop around the tipi, working up the courage before he finally invites himself in an starts liking the rocks of my fire pit where I spilled some oil. I don't know if it's good for him, but I sense that it isn't, though he looks so content, I can't work up the gumption to stop his fest.
Now that my tipi has the general smell of fire and food Shadow doesn't limit his trips to dinner time alone. A couple times I've come home from work to find evidence of an intruder. I know it's Shadow, because he's a courteous invader. rodents would chew things up, knock everything over, poop everywhere. Shadow? Well, he casually tips over the garbage can to check for goodies, licks a few rocks then goes on his way.
It's getting to the point where I can determine the success of my meal by Shadows reaction. Sometimes he lingers around the tipi. As i type this post, lounging in my chair watching the sun set just outside the tipi, I can also see shadow walking away. he was only here for about 3 minutes this evening, dinner wasn't up to his standards, he said I burnt the potatoes.