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Bear Alert

It’s mid-afternoon on a cool June day. I am walking in the forest with Bear, my daughter’s dog. He’s a big, black-haired beast of an animal with a sweet disposition. The trees overhang the road, verdant at this time of year. We’re going to walk down to the boat house on the lake. It’s about a 20-minute walk each way.

Bear seems to be in his element. He runs ahead and then comes back to me. At one point, though, he disappears into the forest and doesn’t return. I call for him and walk back a ways, looking for the spot where he might have entered the bush. There’s no one around and I have no idea where he has gone. I am bereft.

I continue calling him, but to no avail. I race back to the cottage where my daughter is sitting and reading. Tearfully, I tell her what has happened. She grabs the keys and we jump into the truck to go and search for Bear. We drive slowly on the road, stopping to look and call his name. Nothing.

We travel the two kilometres to the gate, same drill. Nothing. We continue searching some of the less-travelled roads. Still nothing. By now, my daughter’s boyfriend has joined the search. He takes my car and starts along the forest roads. This continues for about an hour when finally, out of nowhere, Bear appears on the road ahead. He is covered in mud, but otherwise fine.

It’s been an hour of hell. I was imagining that we might never find him in these woods. It’s likely he wouldn’t know the way home.

Suddenly, we see him loping leisurely toward the truck. A prayer answered. But I was angry at him too, and spoke sternly to him. In response, he was completely lackadaisical, having just had a messy adventure we could only imagine.

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