Collected Wisps of Thought











{May 23, 2006}   The Courage of Little Dogs

Last night, as my husband and I were shutting off the lights and our house fell into complete darkness, I heard a single gun shot. It wasn't far away. Maybe it came from across the street. Maybe it came from the next house over.

I sat straight up in bed, alert, my heart pounding, my ears straining to hear even the smallest sound…

Then there was a noise. An outside-our-house noise. The type of noise that can't be easily described or placed. An unfamiliar noise.

Being modern people, we got up, turned on the lights in each room, and then we turned to the one true source of comfort and security in today's world. We turned on the television. Would the purple glow let intruders know we were awake? Or did we just want the comfort of meaningless sound?

Yet over the television voices, we still heard the barking of the neighbor's dog. Relentless, breathless barking. High pitched, ceaseless barking. We shut off the TV and pressed our faces against the cold window pane.

The trees outside made dark, waving shadows and the barking continued for so long we knew something was wrong. Out of place. Disturbed.

Then my husband saw the shape. A huge shape, blacker than the night around it. It was the kind of shape you can't distinguish at first, but then gradually becomes clear. Forms itself into something solid. Real.

A giant black bear was standing between two trees facing off against our neighbors little dog.

A brief word about our neighbor's dog — he is tiny. Smaller than my cat. I once saw this dog and my cat stand nose to nose, one barking, one hissing, and felt certain my cat would win.

But now this same little dog was facing down the biggest bear I've ever seen. Even in pictures. And he'd been barking without hesitation for the last fifteen minutes.

The bear swiped and lunged, but that tiny dog stood his ground.

If there is ever a doubt in anyone's mind that animals have souls, capable of devotion and courage, I would give them this image of dog against bear.

Only when the dog's owner called as relentlessly as the dog barked, did the dog finally leave. (His name was Rocky, btw, which would have been laughable before the bear incident, but now I feel he's earned it).

My husband and I stood at the window and listened to the sound of the little dog running back home through the woods. We yelled to our neighbor — "He was barking at a bear!" — felt the rush of relief at disaster diverted. Then we watched the bear turn and lumber into our yard, across the place where the moonlight illumines the lawn.

To see such a powerful creature so near, to watch him move so slowly and gracefully through the night, to hear the leaves crackle under his paws and know that he is there, real, existing side by side with us — that even when we don't see him, he is someplace near by because this is his home too — how humbling and stark. How grateful I felt for the shelter of our home with its solid walls. How relieved to find that the creature outside our doors was a bear and not the most frightening of all creatures — a human being.

How humbled I felt by the courage of little dogs.

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Paris says:

Wow you get bears? oO
I would have completely freaked out if I was there seeing what you saw. You are right, that is one breave dog. =)



Paris says:

Oops I meant to write brave. I hate making typos I don’t want people to think I can’t spell. =)



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