Alisa treed this young black bear. Fortunately, the big mama was not around this time.

On July 1, I was mountain biking with my dog Alisa near Lehigh Gorge, north of Jim Thorpe, PA. All of a sudden, I noticed a small bear cub crossing the trail about 50 yards in front of us. Unfortunately, Alisa spotted the cub a split second before I did, and gave chase to it. The cub yelped and climbed a tree, followed by the second cub (evidently, its sibling). It didn't take long for the furious mother bear to show up. Alisa, still running after the cubs, almost collided with her. She seemed to be at least four times bigger than my dog. The bear thought Alisa was attacking her, chickened out and ran away. They both disappeared into the woods. For about twenty seconds or so I wasn't able to see what was going on and could only hear bloodchilling sounds of the two animals fighting. Then, so to speak, the tables turned. The bear's maternal instinct finally prevailed, and Alisa figured out that she would not have much chance against 300 lb. of sheer fury. Alisa emerged from the woods and ran like hell directly towards me with the bear catching up with her with every leap.

I must say that I did not feel any fear at that moment, as if something clicked in my head and switched me into a sort of "autopilot" mode. I put my mountain bike between myself and the bear, withdrew my large hunting knife and prepared to distract the bear with the bike in the hope I would be able to thrust the knife into the bear's side.

Alisa was not scared, as I first thought. I think she simply understood that she could not defeat the bear alone, but could do it with my help. So, having run up to me, she stopped, turned around and faced the bear. The bear stopped dead no more than five feet from us. The two animals growled and bared their teeth at each other, and I generously contributed to the quarrel with a long string of Russian swear words. I believe all bears somehow understand Russian a little bit, which might explain why one can see lots of them doing all sorts of things like riding bikes and dancing in Russian circuses. The bear looked at me as if to say 'Oh, no, not in front of the kids!' and began to back up very slowly, looking over her shoulder at the cubs, who were still hiding in the tree. Finally, she sat down underneath that tree and spitefully snorted at us a few times. I grabbed Alisa by her collar and dragged her away, as she was more than willing to fight with the bear again. Eventually, I managed to put her on the leash and biked away.

When we were sufficiently far from the bear, I stopped to examine Alisa. To my amazement, I found no injuries but a couple of scratches on the dog's shoulder, so I must conclude we both got off light.

This raccoon was peacefully slumbering on a log and enjoying the sunshine and warmth of a nice Indian summer day when my dog Alisa rudely woke it up. No surprise the poor thing looks so unhappy.
Author: D. N. Rassokhin. Last modified: July 26, 2002