Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dog Walk Cut Short

The three dogs were at the front door in a flash, prancing with happy anticipation and eager for the evening walk. It hasn't taken Katie long to learn the evening walk routine, and she was right in there with Lady and Lucky, tail wagging, her whole body saying "Let's go, let's go!" The chill in the early springtime air added to their friskiness. And then we had cause to celebrate - Katie did her first good "sit" at the end of the driveway, albeit with a bit of encouragement.

Because of Lady's tendency to become overstimulated, several "pause points" have been worked into the daily routine. The dogs are expected to sit politely and wait for the command to proceed before meals, before going out a door, and at the end of the driveway before starting the walk. This helps Lady remain calm and encourages her to focus on the person who is in charge. So Katie is just learning this, and all three dogs had just been released from their end of the driveway "sit," when Lady suddenly erupted into an explosion of frenzied barking. Bear

It was climbing over the side fence. I didn't move at first, other than to pull Lady back in. Bears are fairly common around here, and they usually run away or climb a tree when confronted. But this one moved towards us. A retreat seemed prudent. We were walking back towards the house when I remembered a neighbor's warning about a huge mama bear with two cubs. He'd reported the mama bear tangling with our across-the-street neighbor's boxer a few nights ago. The boxer was lucky to escape the encounter with only a scratch. As this came to mind, I looked back over my shoulder and saw Mama's massive head coming over the hill. And then I did what you are absolutely not supposed to do - I ran.

We made it into the garage and got the door down without further drama. I didn't take the time to look back and see how far she pursued us, if at all. I'm just glad all three dogs were cooperative, and that Lady didn't insist on staying out there to do battle. What I didn't realize until getting back upstairs and looking out the window, was that Mama's two cubs had been frightened by all the ruckus and climbed almost to the top of a tall tree next to the fence. I watched, fascinated, for several minutes until noticing that they appeared stuck. Mama had her paws on the trunk looking up at them. Fascination turned to fear as we watched the cubs struggle on the high branches. Oh no. A fall from that height would surely kill them.

Who the heck do you call if a baby bear is about to plummet out of the top of a tree? I knew I'd seen stories in the paper of a bear being tranquilized and dropped into a net after spending several days up a tree in a public area. For lack of a better idea, I called the "non-emergency" city police number, which turned out to be of no help whatsoever. Fortunately however, the babies soon figured it out, with Mama's encouragement and support. And thankfully, I recovered my presence of mind enough to grab the camera. Many of the shots are blurry (were my hands shaking? light levels too low?), but you can still make out the sequence of events.

Here they are, waaaaay at the top. It's hard to tell how tall this tree is, 
but this photo was taken with a telephoto lens.

Mama goes up the tree and calls to her cubs. I imagine her saying
"Come on little ones, you can do it! Be careful."

The babies finally make it down to the crook of the tree (can you
make out their black fur?), so she heads back down.

But then she pauses. Maybe scolding them:
 "Don't play around. Come down right now!"

Okay, here they come. Whew!

They're so little! So cute!!

They look like little monkeys!
The End.
So thankful for a happy ending!!
(P.S. And thanks to Kim for the post title idea :)


  1. Wow, that's amazing! I'm so glad you captured it all on "film" (so to speak). That does look like a big tree!

  2. O M G!!! That's some scary stuff! I probably would have pooped a little!! They are cute though, the little ones, not big mean mama!

  3. so cute. especially when viewed from inside. My Bear and Murdoch and I met a bear last year on our road. Luckily it was not a mama bear and it startled easily as my Bear decided to chase it back into the bush while I stood in a panic yelling her name at the top of my lungs "Bear!" .. which really served more than one purpose.

  4. Great post and pictures! glad you and the 3 dogs made it safely into the garage. I can imagine 2 little cubs getting a stern lecture from Mama once they were safely out of that tree!!

  5. Awww, they're cute, but good thing you kept your distance!

    Woofs & hugs,


  6. Holy cow - how exciting! I'll admit that bears are one of the only wild animals that really frighten me. Their abilites are astounding and are so very protective and strong!
    With that said, I also find them fascinating. They kind of remind me of really big dogs...
    Anyway, I'm glad you and the kiddos were safe throughout the experience and the little cublets made it down the tree to safety!