Monday, June 18, 2012

A wandering Bear

“Guess what Miss Bear did today?” I said into the phone, trying to sound stern while I glanced sideways at Bear where she lay innocently on her bed.

“What did she do?” asked Morgan in a mock-serious voice.

“She took off on me,” I said. “I was in the woods with her and Murds and she just disappeared. And she completely ignored me when I called.”

“Well,” he said with a smile in his voice,  “that’s good. She’s a rebel.” And with an extra boost of enthusiasm added, “Rebel on Bear.”

“Yeah,” I agreed. “I wasn’t really mad at her.”

I was frustrated however as I watched Bear wend her way up the trail, her black shape like a solid shadow amongst the bright green undergrowth of giant leaves and scrub trees, getting farther and farther away.

“Bear. Wait up!” I called as I wrestled Murdoch on the end of his leash. She ignored me and kept walking with some purpose around the darkened trunks of trees, climbing over a fallen log. “Bear!”

Each time I tried to take a step forward Murdoch surged ahead, yanking me with him. I had to use my whole body as an anchor, leaning back, wrapping both hands firmly around the leash and giving it a good tug sideways to break his powerful stride. Only when he stopped pulling and stood at the ready did I attempt to try again. “With me,” I said forcefully, expectantly, as if perhaps this time he would understand.

Ahead, Bear melded into the darker shadows of the forest floor where the golden sun filtering through the canopy didn’t quite reach. And then she slipped into the thick of growing weeds and she was gone.

“Great,” I mumbled under my breath, and then I yelled again, “Bear!” trying to sound cheery and not frustrated at being ignored by the “good dog”. Usually it is Murdoch’s name bouncing unsuccessfully amongst the trees as Bear wanders casually nearby. But after a number of walks which involved returning to the house without Murds and without the sounds of him crashing through the bush somewhere on our property, I decided he would walk on leash, properly, as in no pulling.

His entire body became like one taut muscle ready to unleash its explosive energy on the world and there were so many stops and starts Bear didn’t even glance back at us as she disappeared into the woods. Apparently she didn’t have the patience for that sort of thing.

By the time Murds and I stumbled and wrestled and grumbled our way to the back of our property, Bear was long gone. There was no sign of her; I couldn’t even hear her shuffling over the forest floor. But then I couldn’t really hear much above Murdoch’s anxious panting, his expectant shuffling that I would unclip him at any moment, let him run free through the trees to follow Bear into the thickness of new growth on the tract of land behind our forest.

We stood in the clearing for a moment, me trying to listen, Murdoch sniffing the air. “Bear!” I called again, but with less enthusiasm, knowing if she had planned on listening she would have done so by then.

So Murdoch and I picked our way awkwardly along the overgrown trail that runs between our forest and the one behind, jostling for position amongst the weeds and saplings growing suddenly to jungle-like proportions. We finished our standard loop, the one we usually do with Bear, and headed back into the cooler shade of our woods.

We played stick for a while in the hopes Bear would show up at the sound of snapping, splintering wood and thundering paws, but she didn’t come.

It wasn’t until after we’d returned to the house for a drink of water and then retraced our steps along the trail that we finally found her emerging from the greenery through which I’d watched her disappear as though she’d been there the whole time, except she was panting and smiling and covered in pine needles.

“Where were you Beary?” I asked, relief chasing away my mounting worry and frustration. She glanced at me with an expression of mission accomplished and swayed past us with a relaxed wag of her tail. Murds and I followed her back towards the house both asking her in our own way what she’d done and where she’d gone, me saying, “That was kind of rude Bear.” And Murds, I’m sure, telling her to next time “wait for me!”

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