My favorite news stories of 2004

Here are some of the newspaper stories I enjoyed most in 2004.

BREMERTON — Jeff Fisher of Bremerton leaped off a state ferry and into the frigid waters of Puget Sound on Friday evening to save his dog Ruben, a Labrador-blue heeler mix. The dog jumped in the water when the ferry Hyak experienced engine trouble and stopped dead in the water on its way out of Seattle heading toward Bremerton. Fisher, whose wife is expecting their first child in five weeks, said Ruben “is as much a part of our family as our baby will be.”

FLORIDA — Boaters on a scalloping trip spotted something bobbing in the water three miles into the Gulf of Mexico and picked up a tiny, apricot-colored kitten, nine inches long and screeching. The little cat was paddling furiously. About 40 boats were in the vicinity. A veterinarian said the 10-week-old, 1-pound kitten, now named Nemo, had worms but was otherwise healthy.

BAKER LAKE — A black bear was found passed out at Baker Lake Resort, 80 miles northwest of Seattle, after guzzling 36 cans of Rainier Beer. The hard-drinking bear, estimated to be about 2 years old, broke into campers’ coolers and, using his claws and teeth to puncture the cans, swilled down the suds, rejecting Busch beer, which also was available. Game agents tried to chase him off but he climbed a tree and slept it off, returning the next day for more beer. Agents set a trap of doughnuts, honey and two open cans of Rainier Beer, and the bear was captured and relocated.

SEATTLE — A hungry burglar who broke into a Shoreline home early Sunday morning gobbled a box of Creamsicles, six shrimp kabobs, a dozen mini-corndogs, half a large package of Costco lunch meats, two fruit drinks, a glass of milk, a dozen clumps of frozen cookie dough and several large handfuls of M&M’s. The owners slept through it all, finally getting up to see why the dog was constantly barking, and in time to hear the burglar leave through the sliding glass door. He had used their microwave to heat the food. Police nabbed him later in the day.

BOSTON — After John Kerry finished his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, there was to be a big balloon drop but the balloons weren’t falling and producer Don Mischer angrily ordered action, injecting THE most objectionable four-letter word, not knowing the microphone was open and his name was running across the bottom of the CNN screen.

RICHLAND — Faith the service dog phoned 911 when her owner fell out of her wheelchair and barked urgently into the receiver until a dispatcher sent help. Then the 4-year-old Rottweiler unlocked the front door so the responding police could come in. Faith watched intently while a paramedic tended her mistress and at one point tried to tell him another grand mal seizure was imminent. The dog was trained to sense imminent seizures and recognize cops, firemen and medical personnel as special friends with cookies.

MARYSVILLE — A fiery three-car collision on Interstate 5 killed one person and critically injured two others, prompting remarkable heroism from other motorists. A southbound vehicle crossed the center median and slammed into two northbound vehicles. Two vehicles burst into flames. The third, a badly mangled SUV was stopped close to the fire. Passing drivers stopped and ran to pull free the three people trapped in the burning vehicles. Others used a crowbar to pry open the back of the SUV and free two little girls, but three others were trapped inside. The driver of a tractor-trailer hooked up a tow strap and dragged the SUV out of danger. Without help, all might have perished, the State Patrol said.

BREMERTON — Paid tribute to Arnie Schafer, July 14, 1992 to July 15, 2004. “Arnie, our cat. We had a great 12 years together. You were a wonderful support during Karen’s illness and death. I know it would have been much harder on me if I didn’t have you to come home to. I will miss feeding you cat treats and having you sit in my lap every night while we read the newspaper together. You will be missed greatly. I love you both, Richard.”

Adele Ferguson can be reached at PO Box 69, Hansville, WA, 98340.

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