I’ve had some tough times in my life, but fighting a dog over a bone was about the toughest. Pull up a stump and I’ll fill you in.
Last fall, my partner Chubby and I got a hankerin’ for some wild meat, so we drove up to the Dempster highway one weekend and bagged a young caribou bull. We’d set camp and had hung the meat on a makeshift cache to drain overnight, but not before frying up half a backstrap.
After a fitful sleep, I stepped outside at six in the morning to take a leak and greet the sun. A grizzly bear about the size of a pickup truck was ripping the meat off one of the hindquarters we’d hung. He looked up at me and let out a growl that blew my nose hair back inside my nostrils. I spun completely around and out through the backside of the tent. Not under, but through.
“Run!” I yelped. “Bear!” Chubby didn’t even stand up. He just rolled about 10 times toward the truck and into the passenger side like he’d been practicing it for a month. Long story short, we sat there all morning watching the grizzly gorge himself on our caribou meat. To add insult to injury, he then rifled through our tent, eating what little grub we had left. We ended driving back to Whitehorse with nothing to eat but Cheezies.
When we got back, I set my tent in my backyard for that “old homey” feeling. I was making a fire in the woodstove when our husky/lab cross, Jack, came around the corner with a big moose-bone in his mouth. He was a thief by nature, though you wouldn’t think by looking at him. I got to thinking about all the marrow in that bone and how good it would taste. He plopped himself down and began to gnaw on the massive femur. I walked over toward him with my hand out, assuming he’d just give it to me, nut in his mind, it was his. He stood up, carried it a ways, then sat down and resumed attending to his treat.
We played this game for more than half an hour. I’d walk toward him and he’d get up and move a few feet away. My neighbor was raking his leaves and leaned his chin on the rake to watch the show. I nodded to him, half embarrassed and half pissed off at him for minding my business.
At one point, I actually got a hold of the bone, but Jack wasn’t letting go without a fight. We ended in a tug-of-war that started by the porch and ended up across the street.
“Jack, give me the bone. Jack, give me the f****** bone.”
By this time the mailman had parked his van and was watching alongside my neighbor.
My wife was doing the dishes and was now at the window with her mouth wide open.
“What are you doing?” She demanded to know.
“Trying to get this bone from Jack,” I said.
“Cause I want to cook it and eat the marrow.
“No, give it to him. It’s his.”
“No it’s not,” I pouted. “He stole it.”
“I don’t know, but it’s not his.”
“Wow. That’s about the saddest thing I have ever seen,” she said, then turned away.
Jack took advantage of my distraction and yanked the bone from my hand and dashed off into the bush. I saw him through the willows. He laid down and went about his gnashing.
Will Jack give the bone back? Continued in the next edition of What’s Up Yukon.