Update: The dog, Rosie, refused to go outside for the rest of the morning yesterday. Instead she went upstairs and stared out the bedroom window for several hours. She finally came back downstairs and went outside again around one or so in the afternoon. I am glad she's not a bear-worrier; they do say Golden Retrievers are, like, number four on the dog breed intelligence scale. Not Chasing Bears, I suspect, is a sign of intelligence.
(One of the things I remember best from John Steinbeck's book Travels with Charley was him going through Yellowstone, I think it was, and the park ranger warned him that he should lock his dog in the camper. Steinbeck argued that Charley was the sweetest, most docile dog on the planet and didn't see why he should do that. And then they saw their first bear, and Charley nearly tore the dash off the car trying to get at the animal. Dogs don't like bears; bears don't like dogs. Just one of those things.)
The poor cat disappeared for most of the day. He finally came crawling out of hiding in the cellar late in the afternoon. He was badly scared by a bear a few years ago--he was napping, flopped comfortably on our little knee-high brick wall when a bear strolled by, and the poor kitty nearly blew a gasket--so one can't really blame Little Walnut Brain for not sticking around this time.
As for me, when I finally deemed it safe--after my bath, and after getting dressed--I took the cell phone and checked for damages. Very minor. Probably wouldn't have known the fellow was there if I hadn't seen him.
This picture looks like nothing to the average eye, but it's actually a trail my ursine friend yesterday PUNCHED through the thick underbrush in his haste to get away from an air horn totin' Mojo. We were both carefully observing each other's faces, watching for signs of aggression or danger, and I have to say, in my horrific cruelty, that watching his expression at the very second I let fly with the air horn is my new image of hilarity. And then he nearly fell over backward trying to get away. He was in a narrow passage between the garden fence and a thick wall of blackberry briars, and just about performed a backwards somersault to escape the Horror That is Mojo.
Just beyond the briars is a small stand of birch saplings--we logged a couple of acres five or six years ago and haven't maintained it, so right now it's a mess--and I could see the poor tops of the trees whipping about wildly as he beat his hasty retreat. It was rather like watching a cartoon.
I'm guessing this is what the poor fellow was after. Like I just said a few days ago, blackberry season is in full swing. Most mornings I go out in my bathrobe and my coffee and just eat handfuls of blackberries for breakfast. I might need to rethink this--or just send the dog out first to check for bears.
But for now--nothing left but trampled grass and us garter snakes! Who is apparently unaffected by the air horn, not having ears. You get bonus points if you can see him. (Hint: you can right-click the picture to make it bigger.)