If it weren’t for Shemp, Oscar would never be allowed outdoors by himself. Which is really just another way of saying Oscar isn’t allowed out of doors by himself. It’s kind of a shame, because if we could just leave him outdoors all day we wouldn’t have the problem of his deciding that we were slightly off-schedule so he would just take matters into his own paws and pee on the carpet. Which happens occasionally.
But the thing is, outdoors, along with the chipmunks and bunnies who feasted on our strawberries earlier in the season and are chomping on the rest of our garden now, there are also coyotes and fishers. Once my Paul let both the dogs out only to find himself face to face with a coyote, sitting in the sunlight across the street, watching. So Oscar, who doesn’t like to be outside for very long anyway, doesn’t get to stay outside for very long, and always has to be accompanied by Shemp. Shemp, in his turn, might try to play with a coyote rather than fight it, but he’d be able to hold his own if it came to that.
Now, however, we have a new mammalian neighbour in the ‘hood. Yesterday morning my Paul went downstairs first thing in the morning and wondered groggily to himself which of our neighbours had decided to invest in a donkey. The thing was braying rather nearby. Then it dawned on him that it was the Bear.
A few weeks ago, Alicia (my stepdaughter) had texted me saying that three bears had been seen in the vicinity, and not to leave the dogs out too long that evening. Three bears. I don’t know if they’re all still around or if they split up, but on Monday night or so, my Paul and I had just come in from our mostly-nightly sunset cruise on the pontoon, and I happened to glance out the back window . . . and then I did a double-take. I don’t normally yell, but I’m pretty sure I did this time. “Paul!” I yelled. “It’s the Bear!” He came running over and peered out next to me. There was no mistaking it. It had loped across the pond-end of our yard into our next-door neighbours’, and it kept going–sauntering, really, enormous in its sleek black fur. “Wow,” we both said. Then my Paul called the police.
The police were less impressed. I guess we were not the first people to have called them about the bear that evening, and my Paul was told that unless it started getting aggressive, they were just going to leave it alone and so should we. That last bit seemed fairly self-evident. Although I was wishing I’d had my camera handy in time to snap a photo, it wasn’t like we were going to run out and chase it down and, as Alicia suggested later, offer it a casserole or, as Paul chimed in, a potted plant, to welcome it to the neighbourhood. I’m all for living and letting live, but the population density in our area is high enough that I’m not sure a bear is the best addition to the local demographic. It didn’t seem very comforting, therefore, to know that someone was going to have to be mauled before the authorities were going to try to do anything about it.
Evidently no one was mauled, though, because there was the Bear, at least within earshot yesterday morning, braying for Paul to hear him. I’m not sure if it was before or after that that Paul let the dogs out for their morning constitutional, but they both came back so that’s okay. I’m just not convinced that even Shemp could take a bear. Hopefully he’ll never have to.
In the meantime, the next time you’re rehearsing animal sounds with the toddler in your life (everyone needs one of those), should the question arise of what the Bear says? The answer is, evidently, “Hee haw.”