Losing Lucy

The third great trauma of my life happened last week.

I watched an unhealthy black bear attack our lover pup, twice. Both times I prepared myself for another tragic loss.

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Lucy the Lover Pup, photo by Tim McAllister

For a few weeks, we have had several black bears visiting the property where we live. There are two houses at this idyllic warden station in a wildlife corridor near the Athabasca River, twenty kilometers south of Jasper in the national park. It’s been a treat to see mamma and baby bears playing around our yard when we come home from work in the evening.

Welcome home!

Welcome home!

There have been no negative encounters between the bears and our neighbors, our Lucy or us.

Lucy was lounging in the back seat of my station wagon with the doors open. I was about to go out and get her when I saw the small mangy black bear approach the car. He wasn’t passing through; he was sniffing and lolling about the car. His fur was patchy and he had a snout full of drool.

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I opened the front door of the cabin and started yelling. The bear ignored me and grabbed Lucy from behind, threw her on the ground and attacked her. Lucy yelped out, but was helpless under the claws and teeth of the hungry muscles that pinned her to the ground. She passed out, stopped fighting, and I thought it was over. I just watched our fourteen-year-old Akita meet her death.

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The bear lost interest and moved five meters away to eat grass and bushes. I was about five meters away in the cabin watching Lucy’s chest rise and fall. Her eyes were closed. I thought; this is a slow and painful death. After several minutes, Lucy jumped up and started running away from the bear. The bear ensued, chasing her. I felt mortified. They went out of sight. I didn’t want to see her gruesome death. There was barking, yelping, and a kafuffle. Next thing I know, Lucy is on the front porch barking. The bear is gone.

I let her in. She can barely walk. She is bleeding from the neck. She is a mess. I am shocked and baffled, but grateful. I wonder if she needs to be put down. I call Tim. I call the vet. I decide to take her into town to the vet. I couldn’t get a hold of Tim, in retrospect; I learn that Tim’s phone died.

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I get in my car and drive around the property, I honk and chase off a healthy bigger black bear. As I round the corner back to the cabin, I see the sick predacious bear. I also drive towards it honking. It doesn’t scare as easily as the healthy bear. But, I feel I have gained enough space to get Lucy in the car.

Lucy doesn’t want to leave the cabin. I carry her seventy-five pounds of life into my car. I get her blood on my hands; I will never forget this moment. We safely load into the car and I drive as fast as I can. This is one of the few times in my life where speeding feels like a vital act.

I watch Lucy carefully; I cannot believe she is alive. I constantly look over my shoulder, is she still conscious?

The vet palpates Lucy’s chest and belly and determines there are no obvious internal injuries. She shaves the neck where the puncture wounds are. She puts Lucy on pain relief and antibiotics. We are sent on our way shortly after. I cannot wait to find Tim and reunite our small family.

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Since, this incident, I have witnessed myself and Lucy experience PTSD symptoms. I have seen Lucy recoil from me as if I am an attacking bear when I touch her in the wrong way. I have had bears wandering through my dreams. On our property, I startle at shadows.

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Our week away to Squamish has been healing. The coastal air and warm waters have protected us from mad bears and dark shadows.

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Tim McAllister photo

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As Good As it Gets- Howling at the Moon

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I had some profound refections yesterday that I want to hold onto.

I am in Colorado, tomorrow I compete in the 20th Annual Ouray Ice Climbing Competition. I just spent a week in this neighbourhood with my boyfriend Tim McAllister enjoying some classic ice and mixed climbing in the San Juans.

Mostly my life is awesome, I just don’t realize it some of the time.

I am very goal oriented and I often have to remind myself that the ‘Joy is in the Journey. Its a mantra I use on long belays, arduous approaches and when falling off my project.

A few days ago I had a really low day emotionally. I caught a very brief glimpse into the world of mental illness and depression.

I was aware that I was having “stinking thinking”, but I still was seduced by its dirty and naughty ways. Luckily, I managed to just pout my way through the day, rather than having a full wobbler (temper tantrum).

In hindsight, I attribute this insanity to several things:

1. Full MOON (my favourite)

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The Werewolf inside

A friend of mine directed me to a website called the Power Path that called out strong energy around this recent full moon:

Beware of potential conflict when differences in opinion are activated and beware of blame that can occur around personal disappointments. If you find yourself in anger or argument, shift towards a neutral discussion. If you find yourself irritated or impatient, move that feeling towards acceptance and just “let it go”.  If you find yourself lethargic or depressed or strangely emotional, move toward gratitude and anything that raises your frequency.

2. My addiction to hard movement. I was working a route where every move felt strenuous and required my brain and body to work hard. On this particular day, I was on an easier climb and I almost felt like a junkie not getting my hard drugs, having to just get by without! crazy!!! I really don’t like this one!

3. Expectations. I had some high expectations on this day and there were many challenges logistically, etc that slowed us down and made the day more work basically. I also felt the pressure of the upcoming competition and performing at a high level ALL the time.

3a. Beginner’s mind (a lack of). This ties into the previous one, but its super important. My first time on a route or in a new area, I am full of gratitude and low/no expectation. I approach everything with a beginner’s mind. This is a rewarding way to enjoy the journey and I want to bring this mind to old projects and routes, etc.

FINALLY, I just realize that despite all my goals ( there are a lot of them, there always will be, and new ones will fill the place) THIS is AS GOOD AS it gets. THIS is IT! we are living the DREAM. We are healthy, able, loved, eating good food, breathing clean air. What an opportunity to travel the world, climb, compete, meet passionate climbers. Feeling the support of loved ones, etc.

Despite all the pressures and expectations: I APPRECIATE where I am at TODAY. This is as GOOD as it gets. and its better to realize it NOW than when its gone!

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Resting between Burns. Faking it. These ARE the good times. They aren’t around the corner. They are RIGHT here, RIGHT Now! oowwwwww!

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Filed under Friends, Ice Climbing, Multi-pitch climbing, Sport Climbing