By Lori Berkey, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – What started out as a typical morning trail walk for Brendan Lennon and his dog, Greta, resulted in a “bear” of a journey. The Shrewsbury duo were recently heading back from their wooded loop on the West Dover Crosstown Trails in Vermont when Greta (a super-friendly Vizsla) dashed around a corner.
Brendan called her back, heard fighting snarls and saw his beloved pooch running toward him with a predator chasing her.
An instant later, the two animals veered off into the woods.
“I thought it was a large dog or coyote, but realized quickly it was a bear and I ran in to the woods after them yelling and screaming,” Brendan said.
Quickly catching up with them, Brendan saw Greta on the ground getting mauled, making hurt dog noises.
“I stopped probably six feet out, yelling and waving my hands but the bear was not fazed,” Brendan recalled.
Brendan got closer, now about four feet away, still yelling, and the bear was still not fazed. He closed in with the bear’s back about waist high to him. He then lunged forward, his hands sinking into the bear’s coarse, soft hair. He managed to push the bear off Greta with a force that also propelled himself backward.
Brendan stumbled, ran a few steps back and fell.
Quickly rising to his feet with his eyes on the bear, Brandon looked around for a weapon or tree to put between them.
When Brendan fell backward, the bear had moved a few strides away.
“Luckily, Greta got out of there and was between my legs in a few seconds,” he said.
The bear did not pursue them and sauntered into the woods.
Brendan looked for other bears and saw none.
He was then able to put a leash on Greta and walk out of the woods.
Brendan escaped the encounter with only a few cuts on his left hand and was not sure if it was from the bear or from whacking a tree.
Greta didn’t fare quite as well.
“When we got further down the trail, I realized she had some deep cuts and would require treatment,” Brendan said.
She received ultrasounds and x-rays to confirm no broken bones or internal bleeding, and blood work was done. She left the emergency vet hospital with a round of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory/pain pills. The pooch slept three days straight, only waking for her dose of pills in “yummy steak pieces,” but then woke up her friendly Vizsla self on day three. On day eight she developed a large seroma on her neck and chest area, where the bear likely hit her. Brendan and his wife, Heidi, are waiting for her to fully recover before bringing her back for surgery to address the seroma.
Although Brendan only had a few small skin wounds himself, since he was unsure where they came from, he got a tetanus booster. He is also following the recommendation to undergo a round of rabies vaccines as a precaution.
Brendan described his dog as being sweet and “demonstratively affectionate.” He said her favorite pastime is chasing tennis balls and participating in the local runs at Sneakerama, Marathon Sports and November Project, along with mountain biking, swimming, and cross-country skiing.
“Greta is eager to please but demands high activity and attention,” he added.
Greta met her goal of pleasing her owners, as Brendan and Heidi are immensely pleased she survived the attack.