Couple rescued after dog takes on brown bear

“He’s got the bear … and now he’s going to get killed.”

Greg and Teresa Groeneweg pose with their dog, Ace, who is wearing a lifesaver medal Greg received from the Anchorage Fire Department years ago. He said Ace deserves it now more than him, for fighting off a bear. (Courtesy Greg Groeneweg)

Greg and Teresa Groeneweg pose with their dog, Ace, who is wearing a lifesaver medal Greg received from the Anchorage Fire Department years ago. He said Ace deserves it now more than him, for fighting off a bear. (Courtesy Greg Groeneweg)

KENAI — Greg Groeneweg and his wife Teresa were enjoying an evening walk with their dog, Ace, near their Sterling cabin last week like they always do in the summertime. Only this time, they heard a snapping noise in the alder foliage near the road they were on.

“It happened extremely, extremely fast,” he said. “From the moment of ‘It’s there,’ to ‘It’s going to be on you.’”

It took only seconds to register that they were in danger, Groeneweg said. He froze, his wife fled. A brown bear had emerged from the woods and started charging the couple.

“I mean, I was just like ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’” he said. “I’ve never even seen a brown bear run here, let alone had one close to me ever in my life.”

Both Groeneweg and his wife are lifetime Alaskans. In fact, Groeneweg was born on the cusp of statehood 1958.

The two have been married for 40 years, and have owned their vacation cabin in Sterling for around seven. Groeneweg said he and his parents used to vacation on the Kenai Peninsula all the time as a child — they’re from Anchorage — and he’s never once had a run-in with a bear. He’s also relatively accustomed to high-stress situations, as he worked for the Anchorage Fire Department for 40 years.

But in this situation, he stood there flat-footed.

“The face is burned in my mind, that bear and me looking at each other,” Groeneweg said.

Once the bear started to charge, he said he never could have expected what happened next. Ace, the pair’s 7-year-old pitbull and American bulldog mix, lunged toward the bear, body slamming its right side. He watched as Ace continued to fend off the attack, trying to get at the bear’s back and neck.

“Ace is not barking, he’s like full-out fighting,” Groeneweg said.

He didn’t have time to react, and he wasn’t packing a horn, spray or a firearm. By that point, he said he remembered feeling most scared for his dog.

“Ace is going to die,” Groeneweg remembered thinking. “He’s got the bear … and now he’s going to get killed.”

But surprisingly, the Ace came away from the altercation basically unscathed. Groeneweg said there’s no doubt the pup saved the couple that day, but still, it was unexpected. Ace is a sweetheart, a pacifist even.

Groeneweg said Ace always wags his tail, and goes out of his way to meet new people. The dog rarely ever even barks. He wants people to remember that pitbull mixes aren’t innately aggressive or violent.

These days, Ace has been given more pets and treats than usual.

“I’m so proud of him, I just couldn’t believe he did that,” Groeneweg said. “I mean, I just didn’t know he had it in him.”

• Contact reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Nov. 27

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Nov. 26

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Sugar Bear Alaskan Treasures, seen here, was one of many artist vendors featured at the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Indigenous Artists & Vendors Holiday Market from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday through Sunday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Indigenous Holiday Market features local artists

Market’s first return since 2018.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Thursday, Nov. 24

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A member of the Juneau Gun Club helps participants with shooting clay targets, one of many events featured at the club’s annual Thanksgiving turkey shoot. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Ready, aim, gobble: Juneau Gun Club hosts annual Turkey Shoot

No turkeys were harmed in the making of this article.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Wednesday, Nov. 23

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A cellphone screen displays spam text messages. During busy shopping season, scammers pretending to be other people, businesses or agencies frequently attempt to gain personal information via “spoofed” text messages, emails or phone calls. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
‘Criminals do not take the holidays off’

FBI shares tips to avoid being scammed during busy shopping season.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Nov. 19

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Tuesday, Nov. 22

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read