COLUMN: Heroic do saves owner, outlook

Throughout my alternate career as a foreseer of doom (a total of eight days), I have compiled many theories (not more than three) stating that we are witnessing the decline of civilization. Evidence to support this is everywhere, ranging from the cancellation of "The Greatest American Hero" to the continued success of Oprah Winfrey in her quest to build a regime and take over the planet.

However, just as the final frozen flakes of hope were being swept up by the zamboni of doom, I was proven wrong. As is the trend with most people that are proven wrong, I felt stupid and wanted to run away to my safe place, where I could rock myself to sleep and sing "This Land Is Your Land" quietly in the dark.

Contradicting my stalwart journalistic stance of never actually reading any news or doing any research, I found myself highly interested in an item from Europe, mainly because it kept me from having to make stuff up.

In Sweden, a dog saved his master from the horrible fate of a bear mauling by biting the huge bear where it counts. I think you know where I mean.

According to, hunter G+à-íran Ryman remembered that he "came through a clearing and saw this bear -- he was massive, around 500 kg. There was no time to turn, run, climb up a tree, nothing. (The bear) was a wall of pure brute force, and I didn't even have time to raise my gun. I just thought to myself: 'My God, what a way to die.'"

The bear lunged for Ryman and was in the process of mauling the hunter when (presumably accompanied by blaring triumphant music), Birk, a long-haired dachshund that weighs less than 10 pounds, came tearing out of the foliage "like a rat on crack."

"He bit [the bear] in the leg and the bear raised himself on two legs and let out a terrible cry of pain. Then I saw Birk bite him in the stomach as the bear tried to swat him away."

The dog did not let up. Protecting his owner valiantly and presumably forgetting that it could be stomped into a sausage patty at any moment, Birk the Wonder Dog continued his titanic struggle against the angry bear -- most likely yipping, yapping, and generally behaving as tiny dogs do once provoked.

Now the good part:

Ryman said, "Just before I passed out, I saw my little friend bite him right where it hurts most -- I saw him hanging off his bearhood, if you will."

Giving new meaning to the name "wiener dog" (a joke I could not resist even after a monumental struggle with myself), the dachshund saved his owner from a horrible death by biting the bear down there and displaying extraordinary canine fortitude by actually hanging onto its "bearhood" and swinging around for a while.

The article goes on to say, "Ryman came to 20 minutes later to find Birk standing guard over him and the bear gone." Vigilant, the dog did not leave his owner's side. Loyal to his master, the dog protected him in his darkest hour.

If there was ever any question that the dog was or wasn't truly man's best friend, the answer is a resounding "Hell yes." Presumably, Ryman has been feeding Birk some high-octane Alpo.

As of this moment, I have renewed hope. We are not witnessing the decline of civilization, but instead we are watching the beauty of life continue to unfold before us. A small dog -- a wiener dog, mind you -- can topple an angry bear with ease and apparently calculated strategy. This is the stuff of champions -- a modern day David and Goliath battle that renews my once fading faith in civilization.

What a great dog.

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