My good buddy Benjamin and I went for our usual morning walk last week and came across a new neighbour.
We usually walk up our road, cut into a back path and take a shortcut through the woods. Benjamin paused as we entered the woods as is his morning ritual, and did what dogs do in the morning during walks through the woods. I tend to evaluate his poops and make a decision to scoop or bury based on location, soil conditions and the availability of a good stick to dig a large hole to ensure anyone wandering through won’t suffer the indignity of stepping in his droppings. The location was off the path, the soil conditions were perfect (soft and easy to dig) and I located the perfect digging stick. A burial it would be.
As I dug the hole I noticed that Benjamin had headed behind me and reached the end of his self-reeling, 30 foot leash in less than 10 seconds. I didn’t bother looking as I dug but thought it odd that he was whining and straining as I held the leash reel in one hand and my digging stick in the other. After the official burial was complete I stood up and turned around. There, less that 30 feet away was a very large black bear lumbering towards Benjamin, who at this point had started to bark/whine/wimper as if to say “Let me go so I can play with my new, very large friend”.
The bear didn’t look particularly upset or in any hurry to meet us which gave me enough time to pull Benjamin’s harness and direct him to the nearest exit. We reached the street in Olympian time without looking behind once to see if we were being pursued. Black bears patrol the streets in our neighbourhood during the Spring, Summer and Fall so I didn’t feel that much safer on the road but at least I could run to a neighbour’s house and seek shelter if the bear followed us. He didn’t.
That’s my fourth or fifth direct encounter with bears in our neighbourhood not including two that opened the garbage can located under our basement steps, removed the garbage bags and dissected them on our front lawn. Most have been quite gracious and have yet to show any aggression but most have been aware of me before I was aware of them and none were escorting cubs. Those situations might have a slightly different outcome.