“Man’s best friend” doesn’t do dogs justice. At least not a border collie from Prince George, B.C., who helped his owner escape a bloody bear attack on Tuesday.
Reid Roberts and his dog Pacer were running along the trails outside the University of Northern British Columbia campus, when they encountered a black bear and her two cubs hanging out in some nearby willows.
According to reports, it was the pair’s second bear encounter this week. On Monday, they came across a bear on the nearby Cranbrook Hill, which Pacer managed to chase off. This time, however, things got a little more complicated.
“She didn’t hear us coming and we didn’t know she was there,” he told CBC News. “She had no choice but to come out immediately and go into attack mode.”
In a Facebook post detailing the incident, Roberts said he isn’t sure how he ended up there, but before he knew it, he was on the ground with the bear standing overtop of him.
“I just started kicking at her while I was on my back,” he said. That’s when his dog Pacer came in.
Recent research has shown that dogs can be a safety hazard in remote regions like this, since they often play a role in provoking bear attacks. But in this case, Roberts was nothing but lucky to have his pooch around.
“If I didn’t have my dog there, I would’ve walked right past, and the bear would’ve come out and taken me out,” he told the Vancouver Sun.
As he continued to swing at the bear, Pacer began barking and biting at it. The small dog may not have been strong enough to take the bear down, but he did provide a distraction. When Roberts managed to pull himself up off the ground, the bear charged and Pacer intervened again. The dog bit at the bear some more, leading the sow and her two cubs away from Roberts, who was left with blood gushing from his hand.
“[The bear] took off hard after him, but I knew he would outrun her,” he said.
With the bear out of sight, he called 911 and slowly staggered back to the parking lot, calling for Pacer. As he waited for paramedics, he received a phone call from his friend to let him know that Pacer had shown up at his door, about two kilometres away.
“Pacer is my hero,” Roberts said of the dog, who managed to come out of the ordeal completely unscathed. Roberts, however, received 16 stitches for the gash on his left hand. Luckily, the rest of his injuries—a combination of cuts, scrapes, and bruises—weren’t serious.
Roberts is a passionate long-distance runner. He told the Vancouver Sun that he runs between four and five thousand kilometres every year—80 percent of which is done on trails—and the attack won’t change that.
Knowing he’s got Pacer by his side, Roberts is feeling as calm as ever, and hopes to get back on the trails with his dog soon.
“He’s a great running partner,” he said.