Pets and Animals

'Hero' dog dies after saving NC mom from bear; family 'heartbroken'

BLACK MOUNTAIN, N.C. (WNCN) - A five-pound toy poodle named Pickle found his way into mom Tiffany Merrill's heart four years ago.

"He's always with me all the time -- always by my side. If I went to take a shower he was taking a shower right there beside me. If I went to bed, he went to bed -- very loving," said Merrill, a married mother of two children.

Around 5:45 a.m. Friday, Merrill opened a door at her Black Mountain home to let Pickle out for his morning walk.

She says the door was only open for a moment when a bear came into the family's house, which is near Swannanoa.

"I would say he was about 150 to 200 pounds -- very aggressive (and) not scared at all," Merrill said about the bear.

She feared for herself and her two children who were in their bedrooms.

"I have kids on each side of the house. I didn't want to run into the bedroom where my daughter was and have (the bear) chase me in there, so I darted behind the couch and it jumped up on the couch," Merrill said.

Merrill said she was also screaming for her children to close their bedroom doors.

"I actually pictured myself laying on the floor dead and after he killed me (the bear) was going to kill my kids," Merrill told CBS 17. "That's what I thought because it was charging after me but then my dog showed up and he saved me."

She says Pickle distracted the bear and the pair both went outside during the melee.

But the little black toy poodle was no match for the bear.

Merrill was able to get her dog back in and rushed him to the vet, but her beloved poodle didn't survive.

"I just can't believe this happened," Merrill wrote on Facebook with an image from the animal hospital. "He did not make it -- he died saving my life."

Heartbroken over the loss, she has no doubt the little dog spent his last day saving hers.

"(He was) very protective -- he just made our lives so much better," Merrill said. "My hero died saving me from a bear that came in my house. We lost a big part of our family. "

Merrill said she was slightly injured in the incident.

"I fell getting away from from the bear," she said on Facebook. "I have a sprained ankle, my back is sore but I am OK."

Authorities showed up and the bear crossed a nearby road and went into woods.

The bear is still on the loose said Merrill, who added she is upset such an aggressive bear could harm others.

"No one is doing anything. They just informed me if I felt threatened, I could shoot it the next time," she said.


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