bear incident in the ravine
Tuesday, June 9 2020
This morning I was puttering around, trying to get my old pileated-woodpecker telescope-cam to give me a video feed of the recently-hung hummingbird feeder. And then came a firm knock on the door. The dogs jumped to attention and came barking down the stairs. I opened the door to find an SPCA officer in an N95 mask. I let the dogs continue out, since this guy would know how to act around strange dogs. He called out to them in a friendly voice, and they immediately started wagging their tails. Within a minute, Ramona was out in the lawn and Neville was lying on the walkway. Not entirely unexpectedly, someone had called the SPCA on us for our dogs, alleging that they'd conducted a number of canine crimes between the hours of 10:00pm and 11:00pm. These included tearing up flower beds, defecated on the lawn, and damaging the cover for an outdoor barbecue. Last night, we'd returned home by 10:00pm, so I immediately said that our dogs had an alibi. Furthermore, it was apparent in our yard that Ramona and Neville aren't given to destroying flower beds. The SPCA guy had visited us about a year ago for a barking complaint (probably from the same complainer) and quickly decided our dogs aren't problem dogs. His predisposition was similar this time, though the complainer had done his best to escalate the matter. He'd initially called the Ulster County sheriff, though in the backend this had been quickly descalated to the friendlier folks at the SPCA. Given that I knew the dogs had been in the house and not causing trouble during the time they were alleged to have been causing problems, I wasn't lying when I said that it couldn't've been them at that time. (The fact that the dogs had been worked up when we'd arrived home last night just before 10:00pm suggested to me that they had been up to something, perhaps in neighbors' yards, but whatever that was had concluded at that time.)
Gretchen soon joined me, and the both of us talked with the SPCA guy, who by now was pretty sure our dogs weren't the ones who had done the mischief. It certainly helped that the complainer hadn't been able to describe the offender(s) or even say how many had been involved. Soon we were wondering if perhaps it had been a bear or a coyote, or even one of Crazy Dave's dogs (though they don't often break loose). The SPCA guy also wondered if perhaps the dogs were being used as a cudgel to address other issues (since he's seen that often in neighbor dispuutes), though the only one we could think of was that we now have a big burly African American man living in our basement. (It's unlikely that anyone in our neighborhood is upset about us megaphoning or doing other things to discourage the shooters at the bus turnaround.) The SPCA guy wouldn't tell us exactly which house had made the complaint, but based on Powerful's conversation from yesterday, we already knew. By the end, Gretchen and the SPCA guy were talking Ulster-County SPCA shop talk, since Gretchen had once volunteered in the cat room. We agreed to keep closer tabs on our dogs. All we could do now was wonder why someone would go through so much effort to have trouble with their neighbors.
Early this afternoon, Gretchen and Powerfull had a Zoom call with Gretchen's childhood friend Dina (and kids) in Isræl. I popped into the frame a few times, but mostly avoided the call (I tend to find these Zoom calls with family exhausting). The most interesting think I learned from as a result of this call was that Dina's kids are already back in school, where there are no masks or other forms of social distancing. It sounds like everyone in Isræl has given up and now expects to get the coronavirus.
During that call, a shooter started shooting down at the bus turnaround, so I grabbed the megaphone and went into the woods. But I didn't go much beyond the wall. The only thing I shouted was "Allahu akbar!" over and over again. It didn't seem to have much effect on the shooting, which continued for over an hour and involved a lot of guns. Eventually Gretchen's call with Dina ended and she went down to the bus turnaround to put notes on windshields. The shooting ended soon afterward.
For dinner, Gretchen ordered a bunch of carry-out from the Kingston Yum Yum, and Powerful and I went to pick it up in the Nissan Leaf. We stopped first at the Hannaford for some provisions such as corn chips, bananas, the large-slice bakery bread that Powerful and I love (but which Gretchen hates), and three bottles of generic antacids.
Most of what Gretchen had ordered had been the Yum Yum Impossible Burger, which comes with kimchi and perhaps other pan-Asian accents. Our burgers were much bigger than our buns, so, as we dined out on the east deck, I picked off pieces around the edge to add to a little pad thai that Gretchen had also ordered.
After dinner, I was watering the garden when I heard the dogs excitedly run off into the forest after some beast, which they quickly treed. I could tell from Ramona's barking that the beast was a bear, so I grabbed my camera and a leash. Gretchen grabbed another leash, and she, Powerful and I walked as quietly as possible to the sound the frantic barking. The bear was treed in a mid-sized tree only a couple hundred feet from the house at the edge of the escarpment below the Stick Trail. But as we drew close, the bear decided to come down out of the tree and run further away. If we're quiet, usually bears will stay in the tree long enough for us to leash the dogs beneath them. But the problem here was that the bear couldn't get very high into the tree.
This cycle repeated several times, with us pointlessly yelling "NO!" every time the bear would come down the tree and the dogs would give chase. I quickly had to abandon my camera, since it was too bulky to run with over uneven steeply-sloped terrain while also weighed down by a gut full of Impossible Burger. Eventually, way down the Chamomile ravine, two-thirds of the way to the bus turnaround, the bear finally climbed a large hemlock tree and got far enough up it for me to retrieve the dogs. Ramona broke out of her collar and I had to fetch her a second time, and I lost Neville in the process. But then Gretchen arrived and leashed him. Powerful, who has a bad heart, had gone back to the house.
We managed to walk the dogs back home on Crazy Daves' trails, which took us most of the way back to the greenhouse. By now, Gretchen and I were drenched in sweat and both dogs were panting heavily. Neville, with his compromised pit bull upper respiratory tract, sounded like he was barely inhaling enough air to maintain essential body systems. We locked the pet door to forestall any future bear incidents and to avoid having any possible trouble with out SPCA-calling neighbors.
The bear had apparently landed a few blows in all the chaos, tearing loose a flap of skin measuring an inch square in the middle of Ramona's shoulders. And Neville had injured one of his dew claws and received a puncture near one of his haunches.
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