It's been a strange couple of days here at the Room. It all started on Thurdsay night, when the Old Hounds refused to settle down and go to sleep. If you know anything about old dogs, you know that they sleep about 99% of the time. This was an odd night.
After restlessly roaming the house for about an hour, starting at midnight, the young hound (age 14) started to growl in a low tone. The old hound (age 15) soon joined the chorus, which quickly evolved into a theatrical production of the most gosh-awful howling you can imagine. I'm always amazed by the ability of these small creatures to bellow out such big, deep sounds.
We realized that this would be an entirely sleepless night if we did not take action. Were the neighbor's cats creeping around the foundation of our home again in their endless search for voles and moles? Was a possum climbing the gutters? Was a skunk family trying to take up residence under the deck ? (I shudder at the thought of skunks under the deck.)
We armed ourselves with the most powerful flashlight we have. A candle might have given off more light, but at least the flashlight would stay lit in the breeze. We left by the front door, locking it behind us so that nobody could gain entry to our home while we were creeping around the property.
We slowly and quietly made our way around the house. As we rounded the corner by the family room, we heard a rustling noise in the woods. Could it be a deer? We haven't seen any since hunting season last fall, but they could be making a comeback. But a deer in the woods should not be enough to disturb the dogs to this extent. Was the Jersey Devil taking up residence? We trained the flashlight beam on the woods, but it was not strong enough to penetrate past brushy the outer edge. The rustling sound picked up in pace, and the creature could be heard moving off toward our neighbor's home.
We finished the circuit of the property, and, finding nothing else amiss, we went back inside. The dogs were unsettled for another half hour or so, but they finally went to sleep. We gladly followed suit.
Fast forward to last night (Friday). The same cycle of events began. This time, we were prepared with a much more powerful flashlight - something much more like a search light. Once again, we crept around the house, and we heard noise in the woods directly behind our home. As we shone the light into the murky woodland, the noise once again intensified. We were shocked and speechless (well, nearly speechless; I won't repeat our actual comments here) to see the back of a retreating black bear!
Black bear have been sighted in a state park not far from here, and one was seen (and captured) in a neighborhood one county over. I don't know that any have actually been seen here before last night, but I guess it was inevitable.
So here we are, stunned in bearland, making plans to secure our trash and add extra lighting to the exterior of our home, in hopes of discouraging bears from foraging too close to the house. Our neighbors seem to have had a similar experience. For the account of their bear sighting, complete with some amazing photos, check out their site.