Heroic dog sacrifices life saving family from 300-lb. bear

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Toby8-year-old Toby was a smart and friendly black Labrador whose human family are the Wackers of Minnesota.

As recounted by John Wacker, 67:

On May 21st, John’s son Chris was out mushroom hunting with Toby in an open meadow a few hundred yards from their home.  Chris had gathered a nice bagful of morel mushrooms when a 300-lb. mother bear crossed their path.

“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.”

Then he saw two bear cubs, making their way up a tree. The man-like bear was still standing in the brush.

Toby came up, looked at Chris and dove into the brush. Minutes later, Toby was running back.  A 300-lb. bear was after him, moving at 25 mph.

Toby stopped when he got to Chris, turned and faced right into the bear. Chris was on the ground, scrambling backwards. The bear overran Toby, caught the brave dog in the hind end and slammed him around.

Chris made it back to his feet and fled back to the house, 250 yards away: “I’m not much of a running guy anymore. 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.”

“I’m pretty sure the bear didn’t have any interest in me,” Chris said.  “We just got in the wrong situation, with the cubs and a male bear and a female bear.  It was not a good place for a dog, especially a big black one.”

John Wacker said, “My son was really shaken. I’ve never seen him that shaken, and he’s been in the woods a lot.” The mother bear has been causing numerous problems in the neighborhood – raiding birdfeeders and sheds, spooking horses and possibly killing a steer.  But as bears have less and less open territory to roam, coupled with a dearth of food, they are forced to seek food in residential areas. This bear has become brazen.  She’s aggressive.  She would have killed Chris. … Toby saved his life. I’m convinced of that.”

Ten minutes after the attack, Toby returned home with bite marks on his shoulder, and four to six inch puncture wounds from the bear’s claws.

“I should have put him down. I was brought up that way on the farm, but because of what he did to save Chris, Toby just needed to have a chance,” John said.

He took the dog to veterinarian Randall Lindemann, who did everything he could to save Toby’s life.

Toby remained at the vet for a few days, but didn’t make much of an improvement when he got home. He was drinking but not eating.  On Sunday evening, he took a turn for the worse.

That Monday, Memorial Day, John had to work driving the bus for some students’ Memorial Day services.  When he got home, he knew Toby was at the end: “I could tell Toby was going downhill. Every time he drank water, he was throwing up white foam. The vet dropped everything and met me at the clinic, on Memorial Day, too. I told my wife, I don’t think Toby’s gonna make it.  I could tell the spirit and life was going out of him when I left.”

The brave Labrador died the next morning.

Toby is buried him in the backyard. John plans to put a concrete marker over the grave that will read, “Here lies Toby, the dog who saved my son.”

Source: Life With Dogs

tearsH/t FOTM’s CSM


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0 responses to “Heroic dog sacrifices life saving family from 300-lb. bear

  1. A very heartwarming story which you don’t hear much anymore. It could be a made for tv movie for sure.

  2. traildustfotm

    🙁 ♥

  3. It’s amazing how quickly a devoted dog will react to defend its human companion caregivers. Most of us would hesitate, as we first have to look at the situation, take time to think about what it means to us, then decide what to do, other than flee. My time living in the bush taught me we’ll often find ourselves alone in such a situation, and one must react quickly, as instinctively as Toby did, overcoming fear so one can act effectively, sometimes in only five seconds — or less!

  4. Thank you Dr. Eowyn for this most inspiring post. I am crying as I type this response. Loyal and holy Toby is an example to all of us of pure love.

  5. “Heroic dog sacrifices life saving family from 300-lb. bear”

    …”Toby came up, looked at Chris and dove into the brush. Minutes later, Toby was running back. A 300-lb. bear was after him, moving at 25 mph.”…

    In all probability the dog precipitated the attack by not leaving the bear alone.

    Before someone excoriates me, I speak from experience, having first hand knowledge of bears, and hunting, and dogs.

  6. Leeann Springer

    Tears in my eyes. RIP Brave Hero! Leeann

  7. Dogs are the best, and even though the Bible doesn’t say so, I have to believe we will see our beloved companions again.


  8. Dogs are truly a man’s best friend. They are very dedicated to their family members. Praise Toby for stepping in and saving his buddy. I’m sorry Toby met with tragedy. He was a Hero!!!!!!!


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