An unexpected playmate

| 29 Sep 2011 | 10:32

Turbo hates bears. With 10 very old, huge apple trees in the yard, this little cattle dog has chased bears out of the yard for the past three years. Until last month. As usual, I let my dogs out into my fenced yard (over two wooded acres) when I got home from work. My shepherds and other cattle dog sat by the doorway looking puzzled as I unloaded my groceries. This was not a good sign; they never stay by the door when given an opportunity to run. As I raced out the door, I could hear Turbo barking happily. I caught a glimpse of him chasing something out of the woods into what could loosely be called my yard. As the two figures hurdled toward me, I could see it was a young bear. He turned toward Turbo, and they began to play — frolicking back and forth. I decided this could not be allowed to happen. All I needed is for this guy to grow up to 500 pounds and continue to come over for play dates. Or, even worse, for him to decide to play with every dog in Sparta (with frantic owners looking on!). So, I grabbed my shaker can, scooted the other dogs inside, and ran to the two youngsters playing in the yard. I was shaking the can and yelling at the bear to go, but the two looked up at me like I was a wild-woman! I was. (My neighbors think I am crazy, too, but they have felt that way since I moved in three years ago.) Turbo finally came; the bear finally decided to move slowly out of the gate I opened for him. Several hours later, I saw him peering into the yard. He waited for a long time, so I took my water pistol out and sprayed him. He reluctantly left, looking very hurt and upset. On my evening jogs I often see bears, sometimes within a few feet. Thanks to the NJ BEAR response group, I am no longer afraid of them, and am confident of my ability to scare them away. And they always run when I yell and wave my arms, which is a good thing with all the apple trees I have. And Turbo? He misses his new friend, but I tell him that sometimes we just have to let go. Linda Schroeder Sparta