I promised myself that I would add one of these stories here every time I told one. I tell them at one point or another throughout the summer. There will be no chronology - not yet anyway - nor will there be much of a schedule. You never know; I might add a story every day and I might not. This is my life. Every day is an adventure.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Lessons in Bear

One day, a friend of ours talked us into taking a dog someone she knew was going to send to the pound. I guess they had this dog and one of her puppies but they could only have one dog. Tilly was an Australian sheep dog. She was a nice dog, and I think she did her best to please. I was her person, though I swear I don't know why, maybe because I'm the one who doles out the chow on a regular basis.

After we got Tilly out here, we discovered that being a good bear dog doesn't always come naturally. Being a sheep dog, she was bred to herd and was very happy to keep pushing my ducks around whenever she saw them. Course when she cornered them, she really wanted to do so much more than just herd them. "No" generally had to be enforced, but giving up wasn't one of her strong points.

When her first bear wandered into our yard, I firmly believe that Tilly panicked. Never before had she seen another animal bigger than she was, and if she had, it certainly wasn't that big. She didn't bark. She instantly turned tail and beat feet for the house. Nor did she stop to scratch at the door. Like a battering ram on four short legs, she rammed into the door, which fortunately for her, doesn't have a latch.

It took us a couple minutes to figure out why she came in so fast. It really was so funny.

But then a black bear came around and this one kept coming around. Since this bear was properly shy, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to try to teach Tilly what to do when a bear (or moose) comes around. After she came blasting in the house, I took her back out with me. I stood in the middle of the yard and barked at the bear, and the bear ran off. I felt like an idiot, but it was obvious Tilly was doing a lot of thinking. She'd look at the retreating bear and then at me and back again.

The bear came back a couple days later and I did it again, winning a timid "woof" from Tilly as well, and once again, the bear left. Ooh now Tilly was feeling pretty important.

Now, you must understand, I have a rule when it comes to bears hanging around, I had a family here and bears that kept coming around, especially when I was so careful about trash and garbage, were trouble bears. If they go away, that's fine. If they keep coming back - third time's it.

Well, said bear came around yet again and this time was it. I took my 30.06 out with the dog. Apparently, the bear had a three time limit too. It was no longer frightened by my barking and of course Tilly wasn't very bold in the barking department yet.

I'm not a bad shot with a rifle. The bear was down after one shot. I was a little concerned about Tilly's reaction to the gun, but it was another thing for her to think about "Big bang = dead scary thingy". She was right by my side as we walked up to the bear.

Unfortunately, I never learned whether her lessons were learned. Very shortly after that, she bit my husband over the duck. He was trying to stop her from killing the duck and she bit him. He has no tolerance for a dog who bites a member of the family and neither did I. It could just as well have been one of my boys. Tilly never saw another sunrise, or even the end of that day for that matter. She was gone by the time I got home from work.