This month I interviewed people about encounters they may have had with an animal in a daring situation. It did not have to be dangerous to be daring. It could be an awesome experience you had with a wild animal or a moving experience you had with a pet. It could be a once-in-a-lifetime encounter that will stay with you forever. I am forever amazed at the raw beauty that surrounds us and the gifts Mother Nature invites us to share. Thank you to all the people who contributed a story in this issue. “I dare you” stories can be sent to me by email now at email@example.com.
Willow: 9 years old
I went to a friend’s house that had a donkey. She said, Truth or Dare to ride the donkey. She also said to ride the donkey without a saddle. Then she kicked the donkey in the butt and he immediately ran off galloping and I fell off. I was scared. I would never do that again.
I was in the 2nd grade and I am 34 now. I was playing catch with my best friend in the back yard. I threw the ball and he missed and the ball landed over a chain link fence. \Now I had to get the ball. The dog attacked me, and tore up my back legs. I had to run away from him and jump over the fence. The homeowners of the dog did not speak English and we had to know about rabies. I was traumatized and now know that some dogs you approach and some you don’t… know the difference.
Down by the Dunn Bridge, I was leaving in my car when a huge bighorn sheep appeared on the other end of the bridge and stood his ground. We were head to head when a car came down the road and trapped the bighorn between us. He lowered his horns and started dueling with me. I did not have a horn and did not want him to bash my car. I would move forward, he would move back. He would have won but he crossed and moved on. He dared me and I did not underestimate him.
I had a difficult animal. It was a cat named CAT. We got him in a shopping mall. I was 26 years old and knew nothing about taking care of an animal. I really knew nothing about it. We randomly chose a kitty, then put him back. My boyfriend said, LET’S GET IT. So we take him back to the apartment and he lunges towards our legs with his claws. That was a big issue. It would happen in the middle of the night, all the time. I was traumatized and it would get sick alot. I was sick of it but we had to live with it. He needed shots and freaked out at the vet. I learn to tolerate it and I loved the cat anyway. I started traveling and he eventually got out. I dared myself to love an animal that was difficult and I did the best I could. I think back and I did not spend enough time with the cat. Something was wrong and unbalanced.
My story starts on a beautiful summer day eight years ago. There is a trail seven miles north of the John Dunn Bridge called the Miner’s Trail. There used to be a mine down there, and an old steam engine down by the river that goes back to the turn of the century. I am in the middle of the river of the Rio Grande, I have my 45 and a camera around my neck. A 600-pound black bear comes walking downstream. There is drainage on the east side of the river, and he comes down looking for grubs. I am 30 feet from him in the water. I froze for about 10 minutes. He did not see me, I was directly facing him. He keeps digging, pushing dirt around and then walks downstream and up another drainage. I am up to my hips in the water, no way could I have run. He never picked up on me. I was one with Mother Earth. No hostility projected. I was very excited. It was thrilling, beyond words… will it ever happen again?
I am in my 20s, I have made a base camp in the Sierra Nevadas in California. I am raising wolf pups and need to be far away from people. The pups are 4 months old, it is getting dark out and cold, time to head back to base camp. I notice the pups are not with me and wonder where they are. Just then every hair on my body raises, a wave of fear hits me. I break through a manzanita bush, my back hits a pine tree and I slide down the tree. It is early fall and getting cold. I am shivering and shaking, I pull out my flashlight and scan the area. I catch the eye of a cougar 20 feet away. I had to stay still all night because the cougar could easily get me if I ran. I waited till the birds started singing to go back to base camp. The pups were there. I respected the raw power of the cougar. It was a lesson in patience, it was a coming of age thing.