Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rosie and the Bear

Leo has gotten a lot of attention on this blog, so I thought it was time to give Rosie a turn. As I mentioned in an earlier post, both dogs got high scores on the Dog IQ Test; however Rosie always struck me as being a skoche or two (or three or four or maybe 10) smarter than Leo. This is because Rosie had common sense.

If it surprises you that common sense isn't measured by an IQ test, then just think about all the really bright people in the world who don't have a clue about how to get along. Anyway, Leo always lunged straight into situations any sensible dog would have avoided. Like the time when Liz's band council was meeting at our house, and someone let Leo out just as a large Husky was walking by. The Husky outweighed Leo by at least twice and had a thick, heavy coat. Leo charged, snapping and snarling, and the Husky calmly chomped his leg. By the time I got to the front door, ready rush out and save the poor Husky, a panicked and bleeding Leo was hurling himself at the door from the outside. Unfortunately, this experience had no impact on his future large-dog-charging choices.

On the other hand, Rosie had street smarts. She'd size up a situation and take appropriate action. Like when I was remodeling the farmhouse, we had temporary stairs without risers, so you could see through them to the floor below. Rosie knew that she would fall through, so refused to go up the stairs, even though her and Liz's bed was at the top of them.

One time at my sister Jenn's house where there were, as usual, lots of little Yorkies running around (with their hair done up), Rosie began staring at the slowly turning overhead fan. After frowning at it fixedly for several hours, she realized that it was part of a dangerous Yorkie plot to kill us all and that the proper way to deal with the fan issue was to take out the Yorkies. Liz grabbed her before she could.

So you can see, Rosie was acutely aware of life's many dangers and knew how to handle them. One time, though, stands out above all the others as a demonstration of her good sense.

We lived on a remote farm. Deer roamed in our pasture, river otters paddled in the stream across the street, and red fox prowled the fields for pheasant.The most notable local wildlife, though, was a black bear. In the evenings we'd hear deep grunting noises outside, and figured it was the bear coming around for apples. The dogs would look up and softly growl. Once when exploring the dense woods behind our fire pond, Liz and I stumbled on the bear's sleeping place in a matted-down thicket. There were a bunch of apples from our orchard there, and a strong, gamey odor. It only took a minute for us to vacate the woods.

For many  months, that was the closest we came to an actual encounter with the bear--until one dark winter night.

Our farmhouse was heated by an ancient wood stove, and I took many trips to the woodshed during the cold months. Rosie always came with me. We went through back porch, which had two doors: one leading out to the woodshed and the other providing doggie-door access to a fenced area where the dogs could hang out while I was at work (the Puppy Prison).

One night, well after dark, Rosie and I were in the woodshed when I heard a guttural grunt. Rosie tensed up, nose in the air, sniffing wildly. The fur down the center of her back stood on end, Mohawk-style. (If I had fur like hers, mine would have been standing on end, too.)

Then, inexplicably, rather than standing by me and barking at the intruder to keep him at bay (or charging at him, like Leo would have done), Rosie turned tail and disappeared into the house. I couldn't believe it. My protector had abandoned me!

A moment later, hearing frantic barking and growling coming from near the house, I looked over to see Rosie behind the fence of the Puppy Prison, giving that bear all she had.

Rosie knew when get out of the way. I quickly followed suit.

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Brave Rosie protects me from a bear, sort of.

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