Monday, April 26, 2010

Stinky and the Bear

Stinky and The Bear
June 15, 2008

Written after our winter trip to Florida, the year we picked up our long-awaited LTD Edition Bunkey’s the Ticket puppy.
It was great to get home to Vermont. It was a really long trip, for everyone, although it was wonderful seeing our family along the way, and especially great having Flo with us.

The weather is SO-O-O nice here for us and our dogs. They never overheat, and are running and swimming to their hearts' content. Yes, the family is happy together once again. The dogs run loose in the yard at the same time, with no dangerous conflicts between each other. I think it was mainly Bunkey (our new puppy) who made peace by deciding to stay away from Stinky's space. Bunkey's been getting smart lately. She still sucks up to Carly a lot, but she's pretty careful not to get in Stinky's face. It's not entirely perfect, because now that Stinky has given Bunkey an inch, Bunkey continually tries to take a mile. Yesterday, Miss Personality tried to take Stinky's toy directly out of Stinky's mouth. Not a good idea. But, the good news is that, instead of killing Bunkey, Stinky nipped her on her nose. It was the perfect lesson. Enough pain to get B's attention, with no blood. I was really proud of Stinky.
I have another story to relate about Stinky, involving a BEAR!

Yesterday, I was in our yard watching Bunkey swim in the pond, and Stinky took off toward the road (about 100 yards away -- we live on a quiet, deadend, unpaved mountain road), barking like a fiend. I assumed she was attacking one of the neighbors who was innocently walking her dog, and called Stinky off. Stinky wouldn't come back to me, instead she intensified her barking. So, I squinted toward the road to see what was up. I had just moments before taken our bulging garbage cans to the end of the driveway in anticipation of the garbage truck, and I saw a large black dog head poking into one of the cans. ... No, wait a minute! That's not a dog, it's too big -- that must be a wolf! No -- my gawd -- that's a BEAR! A BEAR! In my garbage can, actively eating stale catfood (extremely reinforcing for the bear).
OK, you must try to picture the scene: Stinky was only ten feet away from the bear, bravely barking her head off! Our four month old dumbass puppy was running loose. I was screaming for Stinky to come, worried that she might get into a life threatening altercation with the 200-pound Ursus. All that barking and screaming caused the puppy to go berserk! Bunkey thought, Something really exciting must be up! So she grabbed her SQUEAKY toy, and started running laps around the yard. No kidding, she was right: something was definitely up -- Stinky was trying to fend off an obviously hungry, post-hibernation, bear that was being teased by a tasty young squeaking prey animal running laps right in its face.

Now, I'm a very calm person in emergencies when it involves humans, even in life threatening situations. I have references. But, when it comes to my family pets, I totally lose my shit and freak out. I have references for that, too. So, all of the dog training I have learned and have taught went out my brain, and I started screaming at Bunkey to come, and started chasing her. I even threw a stick at her trying to get her to stop running. Of course, there was no way she would come to me under those conditions. The more I chased, the more she ran laps, the more Stinky barked at the bear, and the more time the bear was rewarded by eating the garbage. The scene was an excerpt from a Peter Sellers' movie.
At least five full minutes went by, I'm not kidding, before my calm husband the hero (he has references, too) came to the rescue. (He had, uh, been indisposed in the salle de bain during event and pulled up his pants in a rush when he heard the elevated level of screaming.) He walked out onto the porch shaking the special dog cookie jar, and Stinky and Carly (who had, early on, chosen prudence as the better part of valor and was hiding under the coffee table) came running to him. Seeing the big dogs' interest in the cookies, Bunkey came in the house, too. Shwew!

OK, the dogs were secure, but what about the bear in the garbage cans? Jim got in the car and drove, with Stinky inside, down the driveway. I grabbed my walking stick (I'm sure the bear was intimated by a hollow aluminum pole) and started yelling, "Go away, Bear!" (I saw that on the Animal Planet.) Finally impressed by the honking car, barking dog, yelling man, and insane woman, the bear grabbed one of garbage bags and dragged it across the road into the woods. We continued to yell and pitch a fit until the bear gave up, walked up the hill about 100 yards and recrossed the road into the woods behind our house, sans garbage.

We heard it rustling around for a few more minutes on the hill until it evidently left the immediate vicinity. Jim went and picked up the garbage that had been dragged into the woods across the road while Stinky and I stayed on our posts as lookouts. The garbage truck showed up just as Jim was cramming the last remnants in the can. The garbage man, a lifelong Vermonter, was very impressed by our bear encounter. He had never seen one, ever, and had never heard of a bear stealing garbage in broad daylight in front of people. Oh, great! We were the lucky ones to have Arlington, Vermont's, first non-fearful bear on OUR property! Lucky us.

Anyway, this story is about STINKY the Wonder Dog, not about the bear. Our Stinky can do no wrong! After the garbage man left, Stinky patrolled our property perimeter. Her posture and gait were stiff, her coat was all puffed up -- she was on full alert. She returned after her circuit and proudly announced that the coast (so to speak) was clear. Bear Gone! Evicted from our house, thanks to Stinky!

So, if Stinky nips and snarls at the puppy a little for trying to steal her toy, that's OK with me, because she's our savior! Stinky has been really depressed since the arrival of LTD Edition Bunkey's the Ticket, Miss Personality, Miss Perfect Breeding, Mommy's little Prima Donna. But today after the bear encounter, Stinky is no longer depressed. She now knows her place in our family as the Protector of Us All. Her attitude has improved one hundred percent, she's very happy.

By the way, no more sightings of the bear, thanks I'm sure, to Stinky's regular perimeter patrols and ferocious barking while on the job.

Happy trails to you from Summer Hill!

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