new bear coping strategy for dogs
Monday, June 9 2014
It was cool and rainy this morning and so unpleasant for firewood gathering that when it turned out that I would have to walk the dogs, I did so with a cup of tea and without my usual firewood-gathering gear. I took the dogs up the Farm Road and realized soon after arriving at the farm near its end that probably should have visited the brownhouse before setting out. But that was a fairly easy problem to dispatch. From there, I took the dogs through the abandoned go-cart track and on a trail that runs parallel-to (but a couple hundred feet west of) the Farm Road atop a plateau of scrubby oaks, pines, and blueberries that was logged 15 to 20 years ago. We'd gone a ways down this trail before I saw Eleanor getting very excited by a scent she'd picked up on the wet ground. At that point, I discontinued listening to my MP3s and started listening and looking around, mostly for Ramona. When I saw her, she was only about 50 feet away, standing there looking at me calmly. Then, over her shoulder, I saw an enormous bear (near 41.929773N, 74.111452W. It was also standing there quietly (on all fours, not reared up or anything like that) only about 30 feet behind Ramona and looking directly at us. I couldn't imagine that a bear could be that close and Ramona not be aware of it. When she sees a bear, she completely loses her mind and gives chase, and it would have been difficult for her to maintain such composure knowing the bear was there. I have to surmise that one of the many coping strategies bears have for dogs is to stand still and not move when they're around. Had the bear run, such a large animal would have had difficulty doing it quietly. Still, there's something terrifying about a bear looking directly at me and not running away. My terror turned immediately into action. I shouted at the dogs to come, and both of them (perhaps sensing the no-nonsense nature of my voice) complied without hesitation. Indeed, they gave me a puzzled look as if to ask what could possibly be the problem. It only took us about six or seven minutes to walk the rest of the way home.
I'd brought a camera with me into the woods, but I totally forgot about it when I encountered the bear.
Various composite flowers in the field at the south end of the Farm Road (41.925103N, 74.109752W). (Click to enlarge.)
A Box Turtle at the abandoned go-cart track at 41.926266N, 74.111873W. (Click to enlarge.)
Ant mounds at the abandoned go-cart track at 41.926685N, 74.110999W. (Click to enlarge.)
Ants on their mound at the abandoned go-cart track at 41.926685N, 74.110999W. (Click to enlarge.)
Later, I went out on a separate dogless mission a short ways up the Chamomile Valley from the Stick Trail to gather a single 120 pound backpack load of salvaged firewood.
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