Some months back I posted about a new neighbor who confused a car backfiring to "shots fired" and called 911. Knowing that this new neighbor was from California, we ended up making LA-type jokes with the LEOs who came calling, and all was forgotten. But then right before New Year my wife took the dogs for their routine romp (0700) while I was stuck inside with a nasty cold ...they strolled down our path to the rear property line (about five acres) when our Beagle sounded and took off like a shot with the Malinois close behind. (Our two rescue dogs prefer to dance in place having been adults when adopted and not trained.) Not far from the rear wall my wife found a small dog at the hollow base of a rotten log I've been treating with decomp to make disappear ...the little guy was shivering when she picked it up. She had just calmed it down with the warmth of her jacket when the dogs sounded again and a woman appeared beyond the field and wood ...she was waving and yelling ...not close enough to hear, but the little dog started to struggle and it was clear a search for him had been underway. Suz approached between the brambles and thorns and cacti (which can be nasty), then released the dog and he shot like an arrow into waiting arms and a tearful reunion. Turns out the dog is a Bichon. The lady was so upset she could hardly speak, and so they ended up in my kitchen where I stood in a doorway. The way that little dog went for the water bowls it was clear he was dehydrated. Turns out she had been walking her dog and then let it off the leash "to sniff" for "only a moment" when at least one coyote jumped a bank of bushes and knocked the little guy down. The woman screamed for all her worth, the coyote fled ...but the dog vanished into the undergrowth and was nowhere to be found. She ran and searched and called her husband on her cell, he was on the coast and suggested 911 or the Sheriff, so she called both. A deputy arrived along with ARS (Rescue Services) but left after a few hours. As she spoke to her husband again, telling him the good news from our kitchen, I watched how her eyes were absolutely riveted -- not on her dog -- but on my wife's hip. If you like girls and guns, it's a great look, she carries a blue Python-4" in a leather Bianchi with matching belt. My wife looked at her, then me, then her and offered, "Would you like to look at it?" Well leave it to California but I've never seen such a reaction, as if she had been challenged by some great mysterious taboo or the Holy Grail ...and she said: "Could I really?" I took a step forward, caught a glance from my wife ...and split. Since then our families have become close. They were both born and raised in L.A. County. Both have advanced degrees. They had gotten sick of L.A. due to an "insufferable" combination of crime, taxes, traffic, street pollution, and the constant sense of "being ill at ease." The only time he had seen a firearm was in the scouts. The only time she had seen a firearm was when she was running for her life through her own living room. They had lived in a gated community at the end of a cul de sac. She was getting ready for bed, and alone with their only daughter, then 14, when she heard two distinct sounds almost at once. Glass breaking downstairs ...the burglar alarm went off. She grabbed her bathrobe and ran down the hall, finding her daughter in the shower. She pulled her out screaming and grabbed a towel, the two ran down the stairs toward the kitchen. As they rounded the stairs she saw a man ...he yelled for them to stop -- they ran straight through the living room, snapped the door open and ran into the night as the man fired rounds from a pistol. As she explained, with the high fencing surrounding the yard, they had to run down a side lot to reach a neighbor, who had heard the noise and come out to meet them. He pulled them inside and locked the doors. His wife had called 911. Both were armed with golf clubs. The police arrived quickly enough to trap both intruders inside the house ...but it was not a happy ending. The two women no longer felt safe there and did not want to return, the lawyer who was handling the matter for them recommended a therapist, but the family had decided to leave the state. The Mook who had broken in had a long record. That night he was on what the medical authorities said should have been an overdose of PCP. He was given a counter-acting compound. He had worked in the area as a day laborer. The gun had been stolen. Since the incident with their dog, they have both taken the NRA Safety Course as well as the state course, and have taken to firearms in a big way in general. He has joined our range as a patron, and is looking into the local skeet and practical shooters club. Most important, perhaps, is what he said about his wife one afternoon... ...that he has never seen her so empowered and unafraid, and now she is teaching her daughter how to shoot.