By Sarah Elmquist Squires

Managing Editor

I took 150 pages of handwritten notes during the first trial Don Detimore faced this week. It was an entire notebook. During the defense attorneys’ closing arguments at the courthouse in Lander, something outside grew really loud. It sounded like a tornado – straight-line winds came down and nearly drowned out Detimore’s slick defense attorneys’ message.

It kind of felt like God was shaking the building.

Back at my house in Riverton, the winds blew a bunch more tree branches into the yard, and, unbeknownst to me, blew my garage door open.

When I came home, I let my St. Bernard, Axl, out to my fenced-in yard. It was a full 15 minutes before I noticed he had taken off through the wind-blown garage door.

This boy was an office dog back in the day, a giant puppy who would get jealous of my attention with reporters and hop up in an office chair and declare his own meetings. But then Covid happened, and he hasn’t been around as many people. And he’s definitely not been on his own in Riverton. We’re maybe 3.5 blocks from Federal Boulevard, and I was terrified.

I drove around frantically, hollering “Axl!!” and asking anyone who was outside whether they’d seen a giant St. Bernard run by. No dice.

I called the Riverton Police Department’s non-emergency line and asked whether my boy had been spotted, or even captured by animal control. The nice lady told me no, and asked whether it was a good number to reach me. YES.

A long-haired St. Bernard is hard to miss, but no one had seen him. A group of people sharing a beverage behind a building, when I asked, said they hadn’t spotted him, but asked about a reward. I told them yes, yes, there’s a reward if you find my boy. They asked his name, and I hollered “Axl!” They said, “As@@ole?!” I yelled, “No, Axl!” They responded: “As@@ole?” We went back and forth like this a few times before I drove off to continue my search.

Without shoes, I just had my car keys and my phone, and my voice was growing hoarse. Tears were stinging my eyes. I avoided circling Federal Boulevard, because even big, giant St. Bernards who are stupid about crossing the road without their mom can get hit by cars. I couldn’t think that.

I was preparing myself for the worst. I hadn’t heard a whisper of a sighting.

I drove by the spot where the people wondering about a reward had been, and they’d all disbursed, possibly in search of the as@@ole.

When I felt my voice give out, and the tears really started to come, my phone rang. It was the dispatcher, and she told me: Someone has a St. Beanie on a leash at City Park.

I always abide by the speed limit, but I’ll admit I drove pretty fast to the park.

When I arrived, barefoot and distraught, he wasn’t in view. So I asked everyone I saw: Have you seen a giant St. Bernard? After some direction, I found him, camped out at a Farmers’ Market meat vendor, getting lots of treats for being such a good boy.

What can I say? I don’t want Axl to run away. But it’s hard not to be proud of the kid who knows where to find the best treats in town.