The other evening my wife and I went for our usual stroll around our neighborhood in Asheville's delightful Beaverdam area. About halfway up the block, we were met, as we usually are, by McCloud, an affable, intelligent, and powerful mutt who belongs to one of the neighbors but generally patrols the area and drops in on favorite haunts, including our house from time to time. On this particular evening, McCloud ran toward us and rolled over for his usual belly rub. When we tried to continue up the block, McCloud did something I'd never seen him do—he barked at us. Then, he ran a few paces ahead of us and barked loudly again in the direction of a nearby tree. We both uttered, "Something is wrong." We stood and watched in horror as McCloud ran forward and flushed a bear that had been behind a clump of trees the whole time. The bear reared up on its hind legs. McCloud stood bravely between us and the angry bear as we slowly backed away. McCloud stood his ground and continued to hold off the bear as we retreated to a safe distance.
Throughout the ordeal, I kept watch on McCloud as we moved slowly out of danger. I couldn't stand the thought of something happening to that brave dog. As I watched, McCloud did something even more astonishing: he turned his back on the bear to look at us. (I can only assume he did so to make sure we were safely away.) McCloud then wheeled on the bear and drove it off into the woods. We were now hundreds of yards down the block, but we never took our eyes off of McCloud.
Once the bear was gone, McCloud trotted back to us as though nothing major had happened. He rolled on his back again so we could resume his belly rub, undisturbed.