The other day after cleaning up after a bear that had knocked over our garbage bin in the early morning hours, I began wondering where we went wrong with bears.
If you think about it, bears would have made an ideal pet in many ways. They are cuddly and cute. They would have provided a sense of security you could never get with a shih tzu. And they would not take any guff from cats.
I get that they are big, aggressive omnivores that could snap your arm off with a good bite, but the same can be said about some dogs.
So why is it we never domesticated bears?
I think the bear itself is partly responsible.
After all, we were able to bring cats and dogs into our caves because they initially reluctantly positioned themselves at a fair distance from our campfires and over time learned to slip in closer for food, until they eventually realized that we meant them no harm. Then over generations, they were able to slowly form a real bond with us.
Bears were not so meek in their approach, however. A bear would smell what was cooking or catch a whiff of our garbage dumps, or that one guy who never bathed, and then walk right in liked they owned the place. There was no testing the waters. It was more like, “Are we going to have trouble here? Because all I want are all the blueberries you just collected.”
And not even my wife and kids can get away with that.
Even if we could find an amicable solution, I think as we domesticated dogs, bears had a hard act to follow.
First off, back then poop and scoop was in its infancy – and no one had developed bags big enough for bear poop. And as for the affection part, I think our early ancestors quickly figured out that having a “lap bear” would not be a whole lot of fun. And while dogs cuddle, bears hug. And we all know that this is not exactly pleasant. Also, the thought of a bear scooting across your rug is even harder to take.
Then there is the sporting aspect. Many of our domesticated dogs were bred to hunt – either to retrieve, flush or chase. I think early on hunters realized that if you sent a bear out to retrieve a duck, you weren’t getting it back – until the poop and scoop part.
As for the flushing and chasing parts, I think bears were just too good at this. Which meant you’d never see that game animal again, unless it was as they were running or flying over the horizon.
On the plus side, having a pet that hibernates over the entire winter might not be a bad thing, especially if you could have them do it in the living room and use them as a bean bag chair.
In the end though, I think not domesticating bears was one of the best decisions we ever made. Because, honestly, they also take up a lot of space. And if you think a puppy chewing on a table leg is bad, think of what a polar bear cub could do.
It just wasn’t meant to be. And that’s fine.
Between my dog, our two cats, and a bear, I’d never get to sit on a couch or chair again.
Or eat blueberries. And that just wouldn’t do.