Big and Black

In the spring of the year, I’m always a bit nervous of letting my dogs, Emma and Ruby, out into the backyard in the early hours of dawn. I like to wait a little longer until more of the neighbours are up and around. Why? Because this is the time of year when we sometimes have visitors in the yard. Black bears have wandered through here several times over the years, and two weeks ago a raccoon was wrestling with my birdfeeder at 1:30 a.m. Cougar sightings are also the topic of conversation from time to time. Although I’ve never seen one in our yard, I’ve heard reports of them being very close by.

So this morning when my usually quiet Emma barked, I ran to see what was up. She seemed afraid to go near the fence and as she backed up,  she did her “I’m not afraid of you” bark. But her tail told the tale. She was afraid.

She was barking at something in the same place where, a few years ago, I had called one of our previous spaniels away from a black bear who was sitting just on the other side of the fence.

I hurried to call both dogs into the house and then went out to investigate.

Later, I made her pose for this picture, but she still kept her eye on the fence.


I scanned the woods on the other side of the fenceline, looking for raccoons, cougars, or black bears, and then I saw it. Sure enough it was a big black….


At first I thought it was a tent, but on looking more closely, I assumed it must be a load of firewood, covered with a black tarp.


Emma still isn’t convinced that it won’t do her harm.

24 thoughts on “Big and Black

    • When Emma was only 6 months old, last fall in Montana, I sat on a hillside waiting while she and Gary walked a ditch. On the way back Emma saw me but was quite afraid because I must have looked like a big dark shape. Could have been any one of many scary things. She ran to hide behind Gary. Even now, she’s still very unsure of big black shapes, as you see in this photo. Ready to run.


    • I could laugh this time because it wasn’t a bear, but the time we had almost the same thing happen with a real bear, it was pretty scary, especially when Lily (our old spaniel of those days) didn’t come back right away when I called her. But Emma is a chicken. She came into the house right away.

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  1. Did you ever find out for sure what it is? Who put it there? It’s not on your property, is it?

    Max is definitely a city dog. Since we moved, he saw a rabbit for the first time (on our walk), and he freaked out trying to get at it. This is a dog who sees squirrels all the time and doesn’t bother with them, but a little bunny turned him into Cujo! Heh.

    Glad the pups are okay. I can’t imagine living where there are bears.

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    • It’s on our neighbour’s property, so I’m pretty sure it’s firewood, but it’s also not far from where there actually was a bear a few years ago. I can think of four times that I’ve had a bear on our property here. That’s the ones I know of. They just wander through once in a while. We’re close to town but just outside of it.

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  2. Thanks for the big smile. My golden Henry did this to me often – stopped short, suspiciously sniffed the air, gave the stance of an alert body going to protect me and him from this strange thing we’re approaching. Only to find a rock, or a loose piece of plastic, etc. etc. Dogs are really smart, until sometimes they just are goofy. 🙂

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    • I remember many years ago in the days when women put curlers in their hair, I went out into the backyard with my hair in curlers and my dog at the time barked ferociously at me, as if I were a stranger. She didn’t know who I was until I spoke and then she realized it was me under all that headgear.


  3. Our first lab Sharik was barking at a tree in the woods, it had a big burl on its stem. I think that they are scared of all unusual things they suddenly see for the first time. But who is piling up wood in front of your fence and covers it with a big black plastic sheet? People are so funny sometimes.

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    • I guess it’s their backyard and they can put whatever they want in any part of it. The plastic tarp is to keep the rain???(wish we had some) off it, but as for putting it where it is… that’s how many of the neighbours are around here. They don’t think about other people. It’s whatever is best for themselves. It’s not so bad in this case. It’s not that close, but everything ugly goes in front of the neighbours’ nose and out of sight of their own. Three of the five neighbours here are like that.


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