|Shelby five years ago.|
Now she is about 12 years old (we don't know for sure), and she sleeps a lot. She gets glucosamine tablets in her food, but runs with a stiff sort of rocking-horse gait. Her muzzle is graying.
Yet today she charged a full-grown black bear, and her "victory celebration" afterward suggested that she was sending a message—to somebody.
Shelby, Fisher the Chesapeake, and I started our walk about 8 a.m., up through our property and onto a narrow Forest Service road that runs through a small meadow, pines and Gambel oak on both sides, and a deep gully or ravine on one side parallel to the road.
As usual now that she is 12, Shelby poked along, sniffing things, eating a bit of grass, peeing beside the road. A "sniff walk," as one dog writer called it.
Fisher, by contrast, galloped about 70 yards up the road, came back, turned and galloped off again, just bursting with excess
I stepped past some trees and saw him on the far side of the gully, pursued by a bear. He likes to charge down into the deep gully and up the other side, but this time he must have come nose to nose with the bear, who was now chasing him at a half-serious lope.
I called him, "Fisher, come!!" He came out of the gully, the bear paused on the far side, I kept calling. I had just one leash with me—for Shelby, when she is too pokey. After all, she was just strolling along, sniffing the roadside vegetation, the elderly dog.
She shot past me, full tilt, no creakiness, head down, tail streaming, barking a little. She zipped past Fisher, who seemed momentarily undecided whether to follow her back down into the gully or come to me. Fortunately, he came to me.
The bear turned and ran. Maybe all this yelling and dog action was too much for it. Shelby chased it into the thick oak brush. Visions of mauled dog ...
Then there was the black flag of her tail visible, and she came trotting out into the open, whereupon she squatted with her back to where the bear had gone and "marked," demonstrating with a few drops of urine her opinion of that bear.
(She has been known to pee on the door mats of houses wherein live dogs whom she despises.)
We went home then. Shelby has just lain around the house the rest of the day. The weather is hot, and she has that thick coat from the collie side of her ancestry. (The other side is Labrador retriever, we were told.)
She let us all know: she is still the Bandit Queen.