Community, Wildlife

I carry a gun

I carry a gun when I go for walks.  Occasionally I see an article about carrying an everyday pistol – yet these folks might as well be in a different world.  I don’t need the pistol to protect myself – I have two small dogs that are at some level of risk when we run across coyote or cougar.  Come to think of it, the last encounter was when Kiki decided to protect me from 2 grizzlies – they ran for about 80 yards, and then one must have realized that there wasn’t much dignity in 2 grizzlies being chased by a 7-year-old Pomeranian. 

The nice lady who handles problem bears for FWAP explained the advantages of bear spray to me.  I even kind of agree that my aging, overweight Pomeranian has an awesome ability to make a stressful grizzly encounter worse.  That said, bear spray is short range – 7 to 10 yards sticks in my mind.  My little companions can range 50 yards from me, and they have already encountered coyotes, a cougar, and an eagle that regarded them as prey.  I’ve had a wolf kill a fawn within 150 yards of the house.  They’ve all been beyond the range of bear spray, and they have all backed off at my confident approach.  Still, at 71, that confidence is enhanced by the pistol on my hip.

Robert Ruark penned the phrase, “Use enough gun.”  I believe – but it is inconvenient to carry enough gun for a pair of grizzlies everywhere I walk . . . and there are only a few moments of my life spent in grizzly encounters.  Coyotes are more common, as are cats – and over a half-century ago, Paul Totten explained that a 22 is adequate for cougar.  Even a 45 feels small when you’re looking at the real bear, and politely asking, “Please Mr. Bear, you go your way and I’ll go mine.  Neither one of us wants trouble, OK?”  So far the conversation has been effective every time.

So I carry a small, inadequate HK4.  It can protect my small dogs from the common predators, and, if worse comes down to worst, I think I’d feel more competent concentrating on my sights and trigger than praying. 


Thoughts on a very small dog

A couple years ago, my little dog died.  Today I can celebrate his 14 years of life.  A dog’s life is always too short. 

Shadow was a baby doll or teddy bear Pom – carefully bred for a short nose, a high forehead, and an all around cute face.  Not my choice, but I had no problems confusing him with my first Pom.  Brandy had been a partner.  Shadow was a pet.  He began earning his kibbles with my mother-in-law.  He didn’t care if she called him by the wrong name, or even if she called him cat.  As he saw his first job, it was to spread joy in an Alzheimer’s unit.  He tackled it with enthusiasm.

He was, by choice, a South Dakotan.  Our 3 acres, with a shelterbelt and pond, was the right size ranch for a 6 pound Pomeranian.  Fortunately, he grew up without the presence of border collies, so he developed an unorthodox and safe style of encouraging invading cattle to depart.  There was the absolute joy of intimidating herons that would try harvest fish in his pond.  He was convinced that rabbits were evil and filled with bad – he had chased one under the Quonset, only to have snow slide from the roof, trapping him.  Another time, he saw a rabbit hopping toward him, and set up an ambush – only to learn that it was a jackrabbit, and larger than he.  He was a South Dakotan.  Montana was too big – he tried, but the pond and the field were just too large. 

As an old dog, he would accompany me through Home Depot, where young women working there would recognize him and call him by name.  He had always had a soft spot for girls – he assumed that all of my daughter’s friends came to visit him.  I suppose to a certain extent he was right.  The ladies adored him.  As he aged and couldn’t walk, he could still work from the pickup, on the seat, wrapped in my jacket, with the radio tuned to Rush Limbaugh. I’d be outside, fencing, cutting wood, or just about any job I could park a pickup alongside. When Hannity came on to his channel, he would bark to have the radio turned off, and return to the house.

Probably his greatest service was recognizing that Samantha had became face-blind after the truck hit her.  He appointed himself as her service dog, taking a station to her side if she was meeting someone he knew, and interposing his body between his girl and any stranger.  His failing vision took that duty from him, but he led us into understanding that a Pomeranian can identify enough people and objects to be a service dog for the face-blind.  He hated his replacement, she had taken his job and his girl.  I suppose that, in reality, I was his second friend, the one who would take him for rides, walks and eventually just carry him as I walked.