It's starting to get chilly here, finally. Before it gets too cold, I wanted to take my black Lab, Gus, to the lake. He absolutely loves to swim. So I gather the needed accoutrement's; treat sack, tennis ball, training buoy, and mace. And of course, my camera, which I never leave home without.
Silas and I leave the house and head toward the lake. Gus is off leash walking beside us. We live in a very rural area. Rural as in dirt roads, few neighbors, and lots of wildlife, hence the mace. I also live in an area in which it is actually possible to leave the house and have to walk uphill BOTH ways to get back home. Oh, the joys of living on a mountain and near a river.
The lake is approximately a mile from my house. Through the woods and down a series of dirt roads. When we get there, Gus immediately goes for the water, of course.
After about a half hour of swimming after tennis balls and buoys, he starts acting peculiar. He starts circling Silas and I, trying to herd us toward the water. Apparently, he thinks we're his sheep. He paces around the shore line and whines a bit. I try another throw to see if he'll be distracted from whatever has him upset. He doesn't even glance toward the splash. At this point my genius IQ kicks in and I think "hey, maybe we should leave. There's something here he doesn't like". I'm brilliant, poppets, I tell ya.
I gather our things and try to convince Silas we should leave. He's used to spending at least two hours at the lake so he was a bit peeved. He has this whole complicated routine that involves the gathering of sticks, digging of channels and building of dams that occurs at a precise place by the same stand of reeds each time we go. He was not pleased to have to shut down his jobsite early. I believe OSHA may have been called. By this point Gus was whining loudly and staring across the lake. He was in the point position (straight line nose to tail with one paw raised) toward this stand of reeds across the lake: (the road I have to take back home runs right behind this)
The dog's distress is becoming more visible by the second. His hackles are standing up and he's baring his teeth. I'm beginning to feel the first tendrils of fear. I'm out here alone save for this dog and my child, with no means to protect any of us. Sure I have the mace, but that's mainly for if a dog would charge Silas. Do you know how close you have to be to mace something? Too close for comfort.
I grab Silas' hand and haul him up. We take off like our hair was on fire and our asses was catchin'. * Gus keeps close behind all the while growling that deep rumble that lets everyone know he's serious. When I get around the bend I hear rustling and movement in the trees. We are now behind the spot that Gus was pointing toward. This is what he was trying to alert me to:
In case you can't tell, that's a BEAR! I know it's a crappy picture, but you try taking a picture while you're running backwards up a hill. I know you can't tell, but there were actually two bears. If you look toward the left of the one you can see, there's a reflection from the other one's eye.
Now this bear didn't really frighten me. He was a little guy and he's just trying to fatten up for winter. What frightened me is that I didn't know where momma bear was. And I know she wasn't far. All I could do was hope that she was in the woods and that we wouldn't run into her on the road. If we were to run into her on the road, I could hope that Gus would hold her off until I could get Silas away. Neither option was preferable.
We proceeded in an orderly manner away from the bear towards home. I tried not to upset Silas anymore than necessary to make him understand to HURRY! But don't run! I don't want him to be afraid of the woods or to be outside. At the same time, I don't want him to think it's ok to approach a bear in the wild like it's Yogi.
We made it home fine, a little shaken but not stirred. And I have bought an air horn for our next jaunt into the woods. And a big stick. And a tranquilizer gun.
*10 points for whoever can name the song that line came from