A friend of mine regularly uses Gwynn as an example of what a ‘real dog’ doesn’t look like, according to her and her boyfriend’s view of dogs. Not to say that they don’t like him, just that when they think of one day getting a dog, they picture something more like a husky or german shepherd – preferably something with ears that naturally point upwards, fur that only grows to a certain length, and an enormous head. Gwynn’s ears are floppy, and really, under all that fur, extremely tiny. He looks exactly like the kind of goof he is, which is part of why I’m always surprised to run into people who are nervous of him. And it’s true that there are some dogs that just seem more… doggish. A lab of some sort, or a rottweiler, or golden retriever – there are dogs that just have the look of a dog that could, say, trek long distance and find his way home, surviving in the wilderness.
Gwynn doesn’t exactly look like that dog that will drag you out of the way of a train, getting injured in the process. Or like the kind of dog that, if he got lost in the woods, would come out unscathed and happy. A significant proportion of the dogs on this Hero List fall into that doggish-dog category.
Gwynn is still up north with my family, soon to return from his great camping adventure. One of my biggest concerns with this venture (apart from the possibility of him growing more attached to my mum than to me while he’s away) is the bears. Yup, there are bears in them thar hills, and with the drought conditions we’re experiencing in Ontario this summer, they’re coming out of them hills in search of delicious cooler-shaped snacks and empty yogurt cups. Last year, he nearly dragged me into the woods after a very surprised adolescent bear who wandered past our site. I strongly suspect that he was yelling, “FRIEEEEENNNNNDDDDD!” as he bounded towards the innocent 200 lb youngster. This is why he’s on leash except for at the dog park. That, and the raccoons.
This summer, he’s apparently found his inner wolf. With bears roaming the campground the past few days, he has shown himself to be a real doggish dog.
First, he dogged up and refused to let my mum go to the washroom. He put his woof down and just said… well… “woof”. Translated roughly as “We’re going back to our campsite, NOW!”. She found out from the Park Wardens that there was a bear in the campsite across from the outhouses she was headed to.
Then, to confirm that this wasn’t a fluke incident of dog-needing-to-go-home-just-because, a bear found itself in the uncomfortable position of being too close to my dad for anyone’s comfort. It probably wasn’t expecting trouble, browsing in the bushes near the campsite, far too close for comfort to my dad, whose recent knee surgery does make him somewhat of a wounded gazelle. While my dad attempted to not have a heart attack, Gwynn took charge!
He growled and barked and growled some more, making no attempt to chase after the bear, just standing guard in front of my dad until the fiendish bear got the message, and left the vicinity.
We’re pretty sure that the common theme here is ‘protect the family from bears!’, and not, “let’s ensure that neither of my parents have to use the outhouse again by scaring the crap out of them.”