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  • There comes a time, in the course of human events, when you have to give a bear a pill. Or in this case, eight of them twice a day because unfortunately they don’t come in bear size. You might think it would be easy. With a wolf, as long as there is breath in their body, put the pill in a piece of meat and they “wolf” it down, no questions asked. If there is any difficulty at all you keep a second piece of meat in your other hand and they focus so much on the second piece they might miss, that they wolf down the first while eyeing the delectable second (the grass is always greener . . . ). If there should be any possible problem even then, you offer a piece to another wolf, and they are so upset that the other is getting something they aren’t, they wolf it down. No problem giving pills to a wolf. But a bear is another matter. A black bear in particular is quite particular in what he eats and does so slowly, with thought and care, methodically sniffing, examining, then folding his front legs and laying his bulk gently down preparing to take his time enjoying his meal. A bear does not wolf down his food.

    Going into this process we thought we had Huckleberry Bear Bear buffaloed. He loves marshmallows. We thought ”this will be a snap - just put the pill in a marshmallow”. Try the wolf trick to be certain; first give him one without a pill and then when he is lulled into a false sense of security, give him one with it hidden deep inside, and then quick another without a pill (that does mean about 20 marshmallows for one bear two times a day, but hey – worth it). Huckleberry Bear Bear, however, was not about to be rushed or tricked. Anything going down his bear gullet to add to his tender and precious massive self was going to go down carefully and slowly. And be thoroughly enjoyed. It took forever to finish a cherry pie for example. First the whipped cream had to be licked off, then one edge of the crust lifted; then the cherries licked out one by one using his long sticky pink tongue . . . and on and on. You would think something he loved so much would go down quickly but no. Slowly and methodically with thorough sensual enjoyment. They do not pig out (except in amount).

    So we watched in suspense as he took the marshmallow, us willing it to go down. But with his sensitive and agile tongue he realized something was amiss. He got a funny look on his face, “Uh oh” I thought - “he broke the capsule and doesn’t know if he should swallow or spit it out”. But he hadn’t even nicked it. He chewed and rolled the marshmallow around in his mouth and managed to extract the whole intact capsule from its sticky enclosing walls and let it drop, clean and intact, to the ground and then enjoyed the marshmallow. Out-foxed. We tried all the above-mentioned wolf tricks using his brother Major Bear as a foil but to no avail. There’s no fooling around with a bear and his food.

    So – now Plan B. Wish us luck . . .

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