Chip, my little 15 pound toy poodle took on a black bear a couple of weeks ago. He’s a now called “Chip the Wonder Dog” because it’s a miracle he survived according to the vet.  I’ve featured a picture of Chip taken yesterday as he followed me out to the garden. You can’t see his boo-boos but they are healing nicely and his hair is growing back in.

It all happened around 3:00 AM on July 30th in my back yard down by the barn. Around midnight I had let Chip and Abbie, my Australian Shepherd out to go potty. My husband was already in bed and I wasn’t sure if he had let the dogs out before he had retired for the night, so I let them out and sat down to knit and watch tv. After a few rows of knitting I laid down on the couch and continued watching tv until I fell asleep.

Around 3:oo AM I woke up. I heard barking but half asleep I assumed it was our Great Pyrenees, Belle, on guard duty. You only worry if you don’t hear a livestock guardian dog barking, so it seemed normal. However about halfway through the family room I heard Chip start to yelp as though he was being brutally attacked. My heart sank as I rushed to the back door and once outside on the porch called the dogs to come inside.  I didn’t know if I would see Chip alive by the horrible cries I heard him making, but I didn’t dare wander down into the yard. I knew better than to venture out in the dark in the middle of the night, especially when I suspected a wild animal was out there.  I didn’t hear anything except Chip yelping for his life and I couldn’t see anything past the porch light’s illumination.

You can imagine my surprise when Chip came running up to the porch as if he’d seen a ghost with Abbie right behind him. I was thrilled to see him running and alive. Once we got back inside I noticed the two bloody spots on Chip’s hindquarters, one on each side just above his hips. He wasn’t bleeding but he looked as if he’d been shot and the bullet went in one side and out the other. He wasn’t crying, he wasn’t bleeding and he appeared to be “normal”.  I knew something had happened but I had no idea what first aide to do for Chip. I considered he might be in shock so I stayed calm and put him and Abbie in the mudroom for the night to keep Chip as quiet as possible and to minimize his activity for the rest of the night. I didn’t know what else to do. The vet wasn’t opened and they don’t have a 24 hour emergency number. My husband couldn’t do anything even if I woke him up.

I hardly slept for the next couple of hours.  My husband was up before dawn to get ready for work. I woke up about 6:30 AM and tried to tell my husband what happened but he didn’t think there was anything wrong with Chip, despite what appeared to be gunshot wounds on his flanks. He actually seemed a bit annoyed that I was going to make him late for work.

I continued to observe Chip and noticed that he sat under the dining room table and wouldn’t move. He is very motivated by food so I asked him if he wanted a cookie.  Usually he comes running and gets so excited he follows me to the “cookie jar” to get his treat.  This time he didn’t budge from his spot while I got the treats out nor when I offered it to him. I laid the cookie on the floor in front of him and he still didn’t eat it. I knew something was very wrong for Chip to ignore food.

I worried and waited and around 8:00 AM I took the dogs out to potty and before I could get my shoes on and go out the door Chip had disappeared. I was afraid he had gone into the woods to die, my heart was heavy as I called for him. I decided to look under the porch where I suspected he may have gone to hide and feel more protected while outside. At first I didn’t see him but eventually I found him huddled way up under the steps. I had to crawl on my hands and knees under the porch to reach him and coax him out of his hiding spot.  I knew he must have been in a lot of pain and I needed to get him to the vet as soon as possible.

I convinced him to walk to my car and I was able to lift him into the back of my station wagon.  I have congestive heart failure and just had a pacemaker implanted so I hadn’t been able to lift more than 5-7 pounds. I gently lifted his 15 pounds into the car knowing that if I didn’t, he would die. Love, adrenaline and the power of prayer gave me the strength to get my beloved Chip into my car. We got to the vet around 8:30 AM, just after they had opened for the day.

Chip broken ribs and stitchesThe vet initially thought he had gunshot wounds, but after closer examination she realized there were other marks on Chip that indicated bites from an animal. The distance between the wounds told her the animal that attacked Chip was very large and could only be caused by a very large dog or a bear.  It wasn’t until she started the surgery that she would discover how critcal his wounds were. Once she did she had a “holy cow” moment before she inserted the drain tube that went in on one side and out the other. He had literally been pierced by the canine teeth of the bear.  Once the bear’s teeth punctured him and the bear lifted him off the ground his muscles were ripped and a pocket was formed leaving room for infection, hence the drain. He had a lot of stitches and a drain inserted and stayed two nights at the veterinary hospital before he was released to come home.

X-rays revealed two cracked ribs and a spinal injury and how close the puncture was to collapsing his lung. The vet told us that Chip was a very lucky dog and that he was not “out of the woods” yet. The biggest concern was infection or an unforeseen injury to one of his organs.  She sent us home with antibiotics, pain medication and a nausea medication along with a critical care canned dog food. We were instructed on how to lift him when necessary and informed that he would need a handicapped ramp to get up and down the 4 steps of the porch.  My neighbor and also Chip’s groomer, came with me to the vet so she could help me lift him in and out of the car.

Chip was glad to be home and see Abbie and his other buddies, Snickers and Casey, our cats. He slept a lot the first couple of days and I fed him a few bites of food at a time using a tongue depressor the vet had given me.  I loved on him and encouraged him to eat and take his medicine, worrying that my “little buddy” had suffered a terrible blow. I feared the worst but hoped for the best…and I prayed.

About a week after the accident a friend of mine stopped by to visit. We were sitting at the dining room table when she said, “I think Chip is doing very well.” Since she’s a retired nurse I felt relieved to hear her speak those words, until I looked at what she had observed….then I laughed.  Chip was getting “romantic” with Abbie and it seemed that his appetite had returned, and it wasn’t just a craving for food.

It’s been about three weeks now and I’m confident that Chip is “out of the woods” and is as active as ever.  I hope he’ll think twice before he picks on something that much bigger than he is. My husband says he likes Chip even more because he has no fear.  I’m wondering…what was Chip thinking??

bear trap P.S. I reported the incident to the DNR and they came out and filed a report. A couple of days later the officer brought out a bear trap to attempt to catch and relocate the bear.  Daily the officer came to check the trap only to find it empty. After a week he collected the trap and didn’t come back again. He said they have about a 5% success rate for trapping the bear.  I learned a lot more about black bears that live in the state of Michigan.  I guess I should become an expert now since after all we live in Bear Lake.

Here’s a short video about black bear. For more information visit the Michigan DNR website page about black bear:

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