Mia doesn’t know it yet, but the German Shepherd puppy has a big role awaiting her.
“Has Mia seen a bear yet?” I asked the other day.
“I don’t think so,” Lamar answered.
I am quite curious as to what her response will be.
So far, she hasn’t figured out that every animal venturing into the yard isn’t here to play or adore her.
Mia’s playful curiosity makes her think everything is a potential friend. That may change when she finds out the main job Pumpkin has assigned to her.
After being the baby for years, Punk found herself tending to Doodle when they were left as the only two pups after we lost Pepper, Venus, and Roubaix all within a month one summer.
The Border Collie never really had aspirations of being the lead dog; her life’s ambition is for all of us to be within her field of vision so she knows where we are. Her puppy months were spent nipping at Cole’s heels and having a fit when he got out of her invisible boundary line that only she knew.
She’s never been one that liked confrontations either, and often tried to avoid the evil beagle’s histrionics.
No, my Punky Brewster is a herder, not a fighter.
In no way does that mean my sweet girl is a coward though.
One night, not long after she and a five-month-old Doodle became our only pups, Pumpkin’s mettle was put to the test.
The girls woke us up, and we assumed they just needed to go out. Lamar has puppy potty duty, so he slipped on his shoes and headed out the back door with the girls.
A few minutes later, Doodle came tearing back in and tried to squeeze her chubby, puppy body under the bed. When she discovered she couldn’t fit, she crawled under the foot of the covers and up to the top, burrowing under my pillow where she whined and shook hysterically.
What in the world was going on? I thought as I ran towards my child.
“I think Angel had an accident in here,” he said, calling her by her given name as he pointed to the quickly growing puddle.
Why would she have an accident inside if Lamar was letting them out? I knew the pittie-mix was scared of the dark but that was unlike her.
Where were Lamar and Pumpkin?
“Cole, go in there with Doodle,” I said, my fear growing.
It was dark and three had gone out and only one had come in, promptly had an accident, and then ran to hide in the bed. This did not bode well.
Even though Cole was young, he knew this seemed like something was wrong too and headed towards our bedroom to see how Boo was doing.
Of course I couldn’t find one of the dozens of flashlights we had when I needed one.
Just as I remembered I had a flashlight on my phone and headed to get it, Lamar and Punk rushed back in and the Border collie ran right to me, shaking.
“There was a bear out there!” Lamar said.
“Are y’all OK?”
Lamar nodded. “It was close though. So close. I didn’t even see it and got right up on it.” He paused to take a breath. “It wasn’t until I heard it that I realized how close it was.”
Cole and Doodle had joined us in the kitchen, Doodle eagerly licking Punk’s face and trying to comfort her.
“She was incredible,” Lamar said, petting Punk. “She didn’t leave my side. She got between me and the bear and stood her ground. She wasn’t going to let it get me.”
“Did it hurt her?” I asked.
Lamar shook his head. “No, it let out a few huffs though.”
No wonder Doodle was terrified. She was just a baby and hadn’t encountered a bear before. She was smart enough to know to be scared.
Pumpkin knew what it was and how dangerous it could be, although up until a few months before, she had never had to be the one to deal with it.
Bears weren’t something to herd up, so they fell under the German Shepherd’s job description of protection.
Here she was trembling by my feet as I loved on her and told her the bear was gone.
“She’s very brave of heart,” Lamar said. “She stood her ground and didn’t budge until the bear ran off.”
Thankfully, we didn’t have any more bear visits that summer, and when we got Ava that following February, Punk at first was not very happy about the new pack member.
At least until she realized Ava was picking up bear duty; then her attitude towards her softened ever so slightly.
Ava’s hyper keen hearing could detect a treat bag being opened in another room behind a closed door and a bear stepping on the property, even with the windows closed.
Now, our youngest pup is a German Shepherd, and she will probably have to learn her bear scaring-off skills soon.
Doodle will tell her to just look at it real dang hard. I’m not even sure how you’d teach a dog to have good courage.
All I know is, we’re all counting on her to bark fiercely enough to scare the bears off, especially Pumpkin.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.