RIP Pickles: 5-Pound Dog Saves Family from Bear

hero dog dies protecting family from bear

A toy Poodle named Pickles may have weighed only 5 pounds, but he wasn’t afraid to stand up to a bear weighing 150 to 200 pounds that entered his home in Black Mountain, N.C., early Friday morning.

“I thought I was gonna die,” Tiffany Merrill, Pickles’ owner, told WNCT. She had opened a door to let her little dog out for his morning walk when the aggressive intruder walked inside the house.

Merrill’s two children were asleep in their bedrooms. She knew that if she ran to them, the bear would chase after her and perhaps kill them all. So, yelling to her kids to close their doors, she tried to hide behind a couch — but the bear jumped on the couch.

As Merrill envisioned the bear killing her and then her children, she heard Pickles barking. Her dog was able to chase the bear outside. As Merrill watched in horror, Pickles and the bear got into a scuffle.

“There was nothing I could do,” Merrill told WLOS. “I wanted to go out there and jump on the back of the bear and save my dog.”

Amazingly, Pickles initially survived his attack by the bear nearly 40 times his size, but the hero dog died after Merrill rushed him to a veterinarian. “He did not make it — he died saving my life,” Merrill wrote on Facebook.

Pickles had been a member of the Merrill family for four years. “He was always with me,” Merrill told WNCT. “If I stayed up late, he stayed up late. If I wanted to go somewhere, he wanted to go somewhere.”

Merrill hopes her dog’s tragic death will make her neighbors more aware of bears and encourage them to take precautions to protect all their family members.

How to Protect Your Family from Bears

Education specialist Lauren Pyle with the Western North Carolina Nature Center told WLOS there’s been a lot of bear activity in the area, which is expected to increase even more as the weather cools and these animals prepare for hibernation.

Pyle said she doesn’t know for sure why the bear entered Merrill’s house, but she said these incidents usually happen when bears become too accustomed to people. “They’re definitely going to be hungry now,” she told WLOS. “They’re definitely opportunists when it comes to finding food, so they will go after whatever is easiest.”

If there are bears near where you live, Pyle offers these tips:

  • Never approach a bear.
  • Keep your property as clean as possible. “Like the trash being left overnight or unsecured, or bird feeders, or outside pet food storage, or even just BBQ grills that are left out with all that juicy, meaty goodness all over it,” she told WLOS.
  • Remember that bears are actually afraid of people. If they do start running, it doesn’t mean they’ll want to run right up to you.

Photo: Tiffany Merrill/Facebook

Laura Goldman

I am a freelance writer and lifelong dog lover. For five years, I was a staff writer for i Love Dogs. When that site shut down, I started this blog...because I STILL Love Dogs!