Of Black Bears and Poodle Breeds

Jeff Cravens 

Many years ago, my wife and I bought 20 acres of land in Washington State.  We actually bought 18 acres, but paid for 20.  In retrospect, the land survey should have happened before the purchase.  Before the ink dried on the deed, I was building trials for mountain biking.


I like my bike trails.  Given the choice between cleaning the house and doing hard labor on my trails, swinging an adze beats flitting around with a duster.  In case you have a hard time with reading between the lines, my house is dirty and my trails are awesome.


Today I went out on my favorite downhill run to see if it was too muddy for a spin, and of course it started to rain again.  The creatures of spring were out.  A western tanager flew by, a turkey gobbled, and a red tailed hawk floated on a thermal high above me. Oh, and there was a black bear.


At least the tracks of a black bear were there.  He/she must have been close in front of me because the prints were so fresh no water had pooled in them.  He/she must have liked my groomed trail, because I followed the prints almost all the way back to the house. I began to wonder if the bear might be hanging out on my patio making a brunch out of my cock-a-poo (that’s a dog) and using her pink collar like dental floss.  Or, more likely, it might have its head stuck in the dog door trying to get at Tebby just to make her stop barking.


My cock-a-poo has a long history with bears.  A few years ago, she decided to harass a couple of cubs until the mother bear decided to end the shenanigans, so she ran back to me!  The big cinnamon colored black bear charged right up to within a foot of me before bolting off the road.  I was still standing in the road bracing for the impact long after she crashed into the bushes.  Another incident two years ago left Tebby with four puncture wounds from a bear who felt the need to encourage her to stop chasing him.  Why he didn’t finish the job, we’ll never know.


On the last stretch leading to the house the big bear tracks turned off the trail and continued down the hill toward the turkey gobble.  Back at the house, there was no Tebby, but no sign of a fight either.  I rode up the hill and found her up at the neighbors house.


I’ve always thought that one of our resident critters would get Tebby.  We’ve got bears, coyotes, a cougar, and now I’ve read that one of the wolf packs from the north of us has decided to roam down into our county.  I have heard that wolves don’t like dogs.  Perhaps I should dress Tebby up in a costume for when she’s roaming outside.  Not a cat or goat, and definitely not a turkey.  An armadillo costume sounds good.  I bet wolves are indifferent to armadillos… who isn’t?

Photo by neighbor AJ, who lives up the mountain just a bit.