When moving to Florida with my family around ten years ago, we never thought there would be bears walking down our street on a regular basis. That happens in movies, not quaint suburban Florida neighborhoods. But, just that happened, one night when I was already in college. I had come home for the weekend and was out with my friends when I got a call from my dad.
“Call me before you come home,” he demanded nervously into the phone. Still at an age when I thought parents didn’t know best, I retorted: “Why?”
“There’s a bear eating our garbage right now.” Sure enough, a black bear was outside my parents’ house knocking over the garbage can, digging up remnants of dinners past. My mom was trying to take a picture from the safety of the living room, which overlooks the driveway.
When I approached our street later that, I never thought I’d see not one, but three baby bears run in front of my car when the headlights caught their eyes. I never thought I was able to break so fast, feeling my heart almost rip out of my chest. And I never realized how scared I could be, as I wondered where the mother bear was. Needless to say, my father swooped me inside as soon as I called.
The bears didn’t stop there, of course. Instead, they came back every year, much like unwelcome guests – eating all the food and never offering to help clean up. In time, we realized that they wouldn’t actually hurt us unless we got in their way or somehow disturbed the cubs. My mom started to see them as giant puppies and I had to continuously remind her that those “puppies” should not be pet.
Right before her operation, my mom went out for a walk with Jetta. As they rounded a corner, she saw movement in a tree. Assuming it was just a bird, she kept on walking until there she was, face to face with a giant black bear. Both she and the bear balked at the same time, wondering what the other was thinking. Or how close the other would get. She could see the blacks of the bear’s eyes. Thankfully, a fence was between them, but she knew from previous viewings from the safety of the living room window that bears can quite easily scale any sort of bastion. Heart thumping, she started to pull the dog away, moving him ever so slightly. Of course, that was also the time the dog decided to relieve himself, unaware of the impending danger.
The bear’s eyes never left hers as she slowly moved down the pathway and jumped into a nearby bush, covering herself and the dog. When the bear’s movements stopped, and only the chirping of birds above could be heard, she grabbed the dog and ran back home.
I was at work when I got the phone call.
“I was almost mauled!” she yelled, still frightened from her near-death situation. By this time, I had already moved out of the neighborhood and almost forgot that it was bear season.
“Well,” I answered, after hearing her story. “at least you didn’t try to pet him.”