Bear Scare and Fox Fear

Such a silly girl!

I saw the bear.  

Or maybe he was only ONE of the bears that have been roaming my suburban New Jersey town. Either way, a big, black blur shot across my path while running in the South Mountain Reservation. My dog, Lucy, saw him first. That’s why she was straining at her leash.

At first, my brain said, “Big, black dog.  Very big.” I whipped my head around expecting to see a leash-weilding dog owner yelling, “Fido, get back here!” The man running in front of me turned around to face me. Did you see the bear?he asked. Oh, it wasn’t a dog!

Wow. So exciting! We both looked into the woods. The blur was gone. In seconds.

The young male bear (or bears) have been playing cat and mouse with the police. Some people are panicked; some are amused. Someone has started a Twitter account posing as the bear. I’m in the camp of, “Poor thing(s), they’re just trying to stake out their own territories.” Maybe I’m naive.   know bears can be dangerous, but I’m just not concerned.  Maybe because our suburban bear isn’t a mama.

Speaking of mamas, Hubby once found himself the object of a mama bear’s attention. In the middle of a golf course, looking up after planting a tee, a mama bear and her two cubs stood 30 feet away, staring him down. Hubby slowly walked backwards towards the golf cart, keeping an eye on the bears without looking actually looking at them. He said he took out the longest club in his golf bag. He and his golfing buddy decided to “keep the cart between us and them.”

The mama bear snorted and grunted, ambled to the edge of the course and scaled a tree faster than a monkey. Her cubs followed. Once the bears were hanging out in the upper branches, Hubby and his partner felt safe golfing. Not only did they discover why the course is named “Black Bear Golf Course,” they came away with good advice:  “Don’t ever climb a tree to escape a bear.”

As of two weeks ago, there are new “predators” in our town–foxes. Predator is in quotes because the only ones who should fear foxes are rodents, rabbits and birds. I don’t know if a fox would attack a small dog or cat, but otherwise sensible people are posting fox sightings daily. They are creating a FP (or Fairytale Panic)! The image of the fox as a villain may be deeply entrenched, but really!  If we didn’t have foxes, there would be so many bunnies, they’d start building bunny condos on top of their warrens. I have nothing against bunnies, by the way–and Watership Down in one of my all-time favorite books–but 1)this is the circle of life and 2)the foxes are doing what foxes do.

So, hats off to the bear who ran past me.

Maybe he was in a rush to get back to his cottage where he heard a girl named Goldilocks had eaten his porridge!

Lucy and Tucker cooling off in the Rahway River.
Lucy and Tucker cooling off in the Rahway River.

Naughty Dog! (Before and After)

Before the snow.
Before the snow.
After the snow.
After the snow.
Before the snow.
Before the snow.
After the snow.
After the snow.
In between.
Before the snow.
After the snow.
After the snow.

Hon, you know how much I love Lucy!

She’s my first dog and I think she’s the–umm–cat’s meow.  She’s a sweetheart, angel, practically my fifth child.  I’ve become one of those people who shows dog photos to just about everyone she meets.  She makes me happy and I want to share the joy.

But, one day she was so naughty that I debated a return to my former cats-only status. 

Every Sunday that’s not warm enough to bike, I run in the South Mountain Reservation.  Lucy is my running partner and she always has the best day running, playing with her doggie friends and swimming in the Rahway river.  Click here to see a video of her splashing and swimming with her friends.

I let Lucy off leash so she can run (and, let’s be honest, tire herself out).  She can be cagey about returning to me, but when I say, “Bye bye Lucy, Mommy’s leaving the store now,” she usually comes.  It may take a few minutes, and bikers may stop to watch and laugh at my attempt to use reverse psychology on a dog, but it’s all in good fun.  That was BEFORE THE SNOW.

AFTER THE SNOW, my sweet, little, black dog wasn’t such an angel!  One Sunday, we went on our usual run.  I let her off leash where the water runs over a dam.  Guess what she did next?

She ran far out on the frozen river, jumped off the edge of the ice and plunged into the freezing cold water!

I couldn’t believe it!  Horrified, I thought What should I do?  Should I go out on the ice?  What if its too thin and I fall in?  Should I call the fire department?  Does anyone have a long rope I can tie around my waist so I can slither over the ice on my belly to rescue my crazy dog?

Then Lucy’s head bobbed up, she hoisted her front paws and torso over the ice, and found the strength to scramble up and out of the water.  Boy, was I was relieved!  And mad!  (Parents, you know how our kids wonder why we yell when they get hurt?  I tell my kids it’s because we’re scared, and that’s just how we react.)

Lucy, dripping wet and shivering, stood for a few seconds on the ice.  I thought she’d run into my arms but, instead, she seemed to forget the whole “I almost drowned in sub-zero water” incident and bounded down to the snowy rocks below the dam!  That naughty dog!  I yelled, “Lucy, bye-bye, Mommy’s leaving the store!”  No luck.  I yelled, “Lucy, yum-yum’s” while holding out dog treats.  No luck.  I screamed, “Lucy, get over here!”  Still no luck.  Even though the temperature hovered around 20 degrees, I was steaming!

Twenty minutes later, I caught her and yelled, “That’s it!  You’re done!” and “You naughty doggie!”

The next day, my daughter ran into a mom she babysat for and told her about the “Lucy Incident.”  That mom said she saw the whole thing from the other side of the river.  She saw a dog run out on the ice, recognized my voice, and knew the naughty dog was Lucy.

Lesson Learned:  Lucy is not allowed off leash if the river’s turned to ice.

Also:  Carry fresh turkey in my pocket; she always comes for that.

Also:  My voice carries.

But, how can you stay mad at a sweet angel when she looks at you like this?  

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And this?

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Lucky Lucy

Lucy loves water.
Lucy loves water.

One of my favorite things to do is to spend Sunday mornings in the South Mountain Reservation. Whether I’m biking, hiking, running or taking Lucy for a walk, I alway feel energized and happy.

I hope you enjoy this 1minute, 46 second video of my favorite furry, four-legged companion, Lucky Lucy.  Lucy had the best time playing with her friends Tucker the Black Lab, Max the German Shepherd, Ace, the Rottweiler mix and even Dexter, a Pointer mix.  Guess what?  Lucy’s tail stayed fluffy the whole time.  Watching Lucy play is sheer joy.

There’s just something about the air on Sunday mornings that clears my head.

What clears your head?