Morning walks with the dog's down the road each morning can be quite interesting. We do about one and a half mile walk each morning and you just never know what you will experience along the way. Afternoon walks are only a mile. Yesterday we were walking along and here comes a blonde colored black bear down the bank of the road, across the road and on down the mountain. This is somewhat a frequent occurrence for us during the warm months. After a few weeks the bears get to recognize us and the dogs and pay us no mind. In our 14 years here we have bear stories galore. Each of our dogs reacts differently with various animals. Bozwell who is in the photo below will look at them, study them, and most times will just sit down next to me and watch them. He takes his cue from who ever is walking him. If we were to get excited he no doubt would get excited. If we started to jump up in down, look like we are trying to fly, and yell, 'Oh no a bear', we would have an out of control dog on our hands and probably a close up bear encounter. Staying calm is vital when coming in contact with bears. He has never barked or acted up when he encounters a strange situation, especially a bear. He is so smart that often times I ask his advice on important matters. Well, maybe not quite that far, but on a dog IQ scale if 300 is genius, he would be a 5-600. He is such a totally unique guy that he is just a delight to have around. We also trust he will not put us in danger.
Sarah is pictured below and pretty much the same but she will bark but not make aggressive moves toward the bear. Generally a minor correction will bring her into calm and controlled behavior. She will then stand there on alert watching the bear but posing no direct threat to them. She so rarely barks that we had her for months and didn't think she could bark. She must have been severely corrected by her prior owner for barking to the point she does not bark. We have encouraged her to bark and now she will bark rarely. In fact when we rescued her she was so broken in spirit that for the first year we had her she would run and hide when strangers came to visit. Lots of patience and even more love have brought her back to being more of a dog now.
Then there is Gypsy, whom I do not have a photo of to post this morning. She will bark and no correction will stop her; act like a circus dog and just make a fuss. She is now 13 years old so with failing eye sight and loss of hearing she sometimes doesn't hear or see the bear. Prior to us getting her she had a close encounter with a bear that left a bad taste in her mouth about bears. One swat from a bear would do her in without a doubt. She was allowed to run loose by her former owners and pestered this bear until it had enough and started chasing her. If you have never seen a bear run before; they are extremely fast and can cover ground in a blur. Gypsy was fortunate to escape or so we heard. We were told the bear nearly got her several times.
Right after we got her she was on the deck and a bear was on the ground about 8 feet down from the deck and she launched herself off the deck right into the middle of the bears back. I have never seen a bear react so quickly before, but it did a 180 turn in mid air, made about two leaps and covered 20' and was up a tree so fast you wondered how it got there. That bear had a very strong heart having a dog come out of no where and land in the middle of its back. I was able to get her away before the bear realized what had happened and start back down that tree.
That is why we always keep our pets on a leash here. In the city the only threat is that they would get hurt by a car or some human predator steal them. Out here we have a very real threat with real predators who are always looking for an easy meal.
Then this morning as we were coming back from our walk and what do we encounter but a coyote at the end of our driveway. The presence of that very large coyote explains the three dog alarm that went off at 12:30 last night when we were all sound asleep. Coyote's are sneaky and try to lure dogs away to where the rest of the pack is laying in wait and they all pounce on the unsuspecting dog. Coyotes have killed deer out here and domestic dogs would be no problem for them. Therefore those two predators are sufficient reason for us to keep our dogs on leash all the time when they are outdoors except when in the fenced in back yard. Gypsy broke her collar one time and ran after a coyote, but was fortunate enough to get away and run back to us as we were running after her. The two coyotes were inches from her back leg to pull her down not 15' in front of us when Ben growled a growl at them so deep and menacing that two coyotes ran away with brown collars on. He is now deceased but when you heard that growl the hair on your neck would stand up. In all his life I only heard it once and you knew instinctively that was nothing to mess with. Coyotes wanted no part of him and hit the brakes so fast they almost went inside out.
I didn't mention the occasional mountain lion, lynx, bobcat, and wolves that we have as well. We love our dogs and want to protect them at all costs. Therefore we keep them on leash and next to us when we go for walks. To allow them to run loose is an open invitation to disaster. It is not worth the risk for us to expose them that way. Deer have been known around here to stomp dogs to death. Those hooves are sharp and can do some damage if they go after you which they will do if chased or harassed. We watched a doe deer run down a coyote one time and put the hooves to it. Attack deer are nothing to mess with.
So living where we do it is best to protect your pets. We have hawks and eagles which we see frequently if not daily and fortunately our dogs are large enough they don't pose any threat. A smaller dog however will be scooped up by an eagle in a flash. So that is why we keep our pets safe by being on leash.
Just another aspect to living in the wild, but one that requires diligence on the human's part.