Country Jay, I don't have any idea if you will come back here to read this or if your comments were just the result of a one time visit you will not repeat. I would hope you will stick around, share what you know and learn from what others know.

However, I would like to challenge your assumption that because you have one set of experiences and have drawn your conclusions from them, that your experience invalidates everyone else's or nullifies their conclusions. I do not know where you hike or how long you've backpacked because you did not fill out your profile or give this information in your reply, but I do know that what applies to Georgia may not apply to Arizona, or that experience that is true in Michigan may not be valid in Alaska or Montana. When you've learned all there is to know about every wild place, then you can make such unqualified statements and they'll be respected. As it is, we have forum members from all over the world. Lots of them have decades of backpacking experience. But no matter how experienced you or I may be, there is always more to learn and someone else who knows more about it than you or I do.

You may believe that your bichon saved your life by growling at a bear, but my experience (as well as the relevant data) tells me that black bears attack and kill humans so rarely that it is justified to say it is no more than a one in a million possibility. If the bear were a grizzly (aka brown) bear, then the chances of a fatal attack are not quite as remote, but still pretty rare. Because black bears are several hundred times more numerous than grizzlies, which can only be found in a handful of U.S. states, chances are your bear was a black bear. If so, your life was not in very much danger, dog or no dog.

As for nature being "hostile" as you say, or "a fluffy pink bunny" as you seem to think others may believe, I would say that it is neither. Nature is more or less indifferent. It can kill us or spare us, but not because it cares about the outcome either way. The more you learn about the way nature operates, the easier it is to abide by its rules and thrive within them. When this forum works the way it is supposed to, we all learn from each other and we all end up safer and happier during our time in the wilds.