A Minnesota man says his 8-year-old black Labrador Retriever Toby gave up his life to save his son from a black bear.
"You don't know how much I miss that dog," John Wacker, 67, of Evergreen Township, told Pioneer Press.
Toby accompanied his 45-year-old son Chris while he was mushrooming in his backyard on May 21.
A few hundred yards from the home Chris was gathering morels in a meadow visible from the house.
"I was getting them pretty good. I had a bagful," Chris said. "Then I heard something in the woods in front of us. I thought it was a man, standing by a tree, looking at us."
It was not a man, but rather a bear. There were two adults and two cubs scurrying up a tree.
"At the same time, an adult male bear moved across one of our one-acre food plots; we have a couple of them," he said. "I looked back, and the one bear was still standing there."
Toby disappeared into the woods and came out running, a 300-pound adult bear chasing him.
"A few minutes later, Toby was running back to me like a scared dog," Chris Wacker said. "I thought, 'Oh, no ...'"
"Toby stopped when he got to me and turned and faced right into the bear,” he said. “It actually overran him and just kind of caught him in the hind end.”
The bear attacked. Chris described it as the most violent thing he had ever seen in his life. He was not even sure how he managed to get back to the house himself.
"I'm not much of a running guy anymore," he said. "I was just shot by the time I got to the house. I was seeing stars. I lost my hat, my mushrooms, my jacket. The next day I pulled a half-inch-long thorn out of my head. ... It was just Mother Nature at her cruelest. It was really something else."
"My son was really shaken. I've never seen him that shaken, and he's been in the woods a lot," John Wacker said.
"The bear I've seen with the cubs is huge,” he added. “I've seen her going across the road."
He said the bear has been a menace in the area for years and she has getting more bold towards humans.
"This bear has become brazen. She's aggressive. She would have killed Chris. ... Toby saved his life. I'm convinced of that," he said.
"I'm staying out of the woods," Chris Wacker said. "She's probably still out there."
John Wacker said the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has given him permission to shoot the bear if she returns to his property.