“Bears?” you say.

“Yes, bears!”

“But,” you argue, “This is a blog about dogs and puppies and very gentle ones at that. I didn’t think this blog was about bears!”

No, this blog is not about bears, even though our puppies sometimes look like little whitish-blonde teddy bears. But this post is about bears. And I would like to take you for a little trip of the imagination while I tell you about it.

I grew up in an area near where the wild black bears live. Often throughout my childhood I have seen wild black bears. In some parts of the country I hear they may not be very healthy and there may not be many of them in general, but where I lived they were quite healthy.  Sometime I would love to share the story of how we saw (and within 15 feet of us) the most beautiful black bear I have ever seen.  That story is very hard to put into words though, and I am not sure words can do it justice.   So, until I can figure out how to write it out in such a way as to show how beautiful he was: you will have to wait for that story.    In our area at large mother bears were often seen to have 3 cubs instead of the normal 1 or 2 that most bears have. I am not up-to-date as to whether or not their numbers are increasing or staying steady or diminishing but from my perspective they seem to be at least staying the same.  Come along and let me share just one of the several of my own personal experiences with bears.

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There sat a cabin, way up on mountain. No, it’s not a mountain like those that the West boasts of but for this side of the USA it’s a good sized mountain. It had taken us 30 minutes to travel the few miles it took to get to the top. Winding roads with sheer drop off sides made my stomach tighten. Yet when we reached the cabin the view was breath-taking. Down in the valley was a winding snaking river and a road ran along side of it. It was the closest that civilization seemed and after such a long drive up that seemed rather far.

One of the best features the cabin had was a covered porch that ran the length of the cabin. Closer inspection of that porch showed teeth marks. Some fresher than others. Some animal, or more than likely several animals that like chewing on wood, had obviously been visiting quite a few times just to gnaw on the porch posts.  This was our first clue of just how wild an area we were in.

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During the course of the week we enjoyed many lunches, and a few suppers, out on that porch.  It was a lovely spot to eat when the weather was not too hot or when there weren’t too many mosquitoes.

We  sat down to lunch and were enjoying the beautiful balmy weather and had almost finished eating when a movement caught my eye. When I looked, there I saw a cute little black bear cub! He was obviously about 1 year old and was still in that sweet teddy bear stage of babyhood.  He was looking curiously at us.

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Quietly I told the others, so as not to cause alarm that would scare the bear away. Soon I saw another cub and another.  And we knew there must be a mother nearby.  Everyone stayed calm at least on the outside.  I think some were a little tense with wondering what might happen next.  Closer inspection showed that yes, there was a mother over behind a bush. I couldn’t see her very well but I knew she was there.  One of us went for the camera and began snapping pictures.

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The  mother bear was very cautious and treed her cubs while she decided what to do next.  I had always heard that black bears are very quick tree climbers but they can climb much faster than I ever imagined. The cute little guys just climb up with the ease of a monkey. They don’t climb like monkeys though, because they use their front paws to pull themselves up and then put their back paws close to their front paws giving the overall effect of one of those wholly-bear caterpillars.

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 Is there anything quite like meeting something in the wild?   I don’t remember feeling fear,  it was just an amazing experience, one of which we will never forget!  It’s fun to go to the zoo to see wild animals but it doesn’t match seeing them in the wild, especially if you know how to treat them with respect and know that if they have been treated properly they will also treat you with respect. This is true for the Eastern black bear at least. I don’t think its as true for some of the other wild bears.

What do you think? I wonder if any of you have some interesting bear stories to share?  Check back from time to time for the time that I will share some other “wild animal” stories.