What happens when dog meets bear? In the best case scenario, they both get scared enough to run in the opposite directions. In the worst case scenario the bear chases the dog, the dog runs to the owner, and the bear attacks the owner. That has happened, but fortunately not in this story!
It is early spring in the eastern part of Finland, the trails in the woods are mostly cleared off the snow. Riikka Tauriainen was out jogging on the trails with her dogs, Viljo and Ninja, when things turned into a surprising and exciting encounter with a bear. The situation looked quite dangerous, but she was able to pull back with her dogs, defusing the situation.
She usually keeps the dogs on leach, but this time she let the well-behaved dogs lose, so she can get some good camera shots of them. Viljo suddenly stopped, and Ninja continued a few more meters before stopping too. She took some pictures of Viljo, and then turned with the camera towards Ninja, foreseeing a great shot of the Irish Wolfhound staring off into the distance. Ninja was indeed staring intensively, not off into the distance, but at a bear standing on its hind legs! What she got was a great shot of a dog and a bear staring each other down.
She posted the following entry on Facebook, soon after the encounter. Let’s follow her story with her own words (translated from Finnish):
“Todays nature shot.
Once in a lifetime, and pure accident.
I had been out jogging with the dogs already for quite a while. I decided to keep going a little bit longer since the weather was nice, it was still light, and I was in no hurry.
So we went about another half kilometer when Viljo stepped on the brakes. I was wondering why, since the Wolfhound kept going ahead a few more meters. I got into position and started taking some pictures of Viljo, since he was standing there in such a cool posture.
I then turned the camera toward Ninja, thinking of capturing Ninja standing there staring off into the distance. Then an ungodly barking commenced, and this scene got captured by my eyes and the camera. Ninja started stepping forward, I started screaming commands while retreating.
There was Ninja barking, and the bear was staring at us. In my mind, I just wanted to get the dogs out of the situation, and I was swearing at myself for having the dogs unleashed. The bear started running off to the right, and I was able to command the dogs to follow me while I started running away. Ninja kept looking back, while staying behind me all the way, making sure that she wouldn’t get ahead of me. I myself did keep looking back too, to see if the bear was following us.
Once my car was in sight, I was able to stop and breathe, relax and think about the situation. One doesn’t need to wonder how a lady reacts in such situations. Really not. My legs were shaking, and it all felt so unreal. Wouldn’t I have had the camera shot, I wouldn’t probably believe it myself.
My writing maybe looks messy, but so I feel myself being too. I can’t but commend Ninja, and sigh with relief that the situation is over. It won’t be in my mind anytime soon to visit the same area again.
The bear is down across the hill, and we are on our way down the opposite side, and no, I wish no harm to the bear. They belong there in the woods!
And the dogs were lose because I was going to take pictures of them.”
In the picture, the bear seems small, compared to the female 3 year old Irish Wolfhound. The impression is due to, besides the distance, the terrain sloping downward to where the bear is standing. Riikka estimates that the bear is not quite full-grown, probably a year old.
“The bear was standing there a while, sniffing. A crazy situation. I wasn’t really scared. Not until later it started sinking in. After all, it was a startling experience”, says Riikka.
Riikka spends a lot of time in the nature, and is still not really afraid of prey animals. She respects nature and its inhabitants.
“To me it is important that I and my dogs don’t disturb in the nature. It’s important to keep a distance to other animals. That also means leaving the bear alone”, Riikka emphasizes. She does find being out in nature is a lifeline for her.
Rikka originally told her story in the closed-for-public Facebook group for Irish Wolfhound owners, because in her opinion, the dogs acted exemplary. But the members of the group insisted she post the story, with the picture, publicly on her Facebook wall.
The story went viral, with thousands of shares and likes on her Facebook wall, and on many Finnish news sites as well.
The pictures on this page were taken by Riikka Tauriainen, and posted on her Facebook page. The bear encounter happened on Sunday April 26th, 2015.