The following comes from the diary of Yellowstone Park Ranger Ben Fox. Any connection it has with this year's national championship game is purely coincidental.
The life of a park ranger in Yellowstone is a curious thing. It’s beautiful, but filled with an abundance of dumb tourists. On this occasion, let me tell you about one of the dumbest tourists I’ve ever seen, the tourist who let their bulldog get in a fight with a fully grown bison.
It started out like any other day. I was driving on a road near Old Faithful when I saw a line of cars filled with people clearly unaccustomed to seeing “wild” animals staring slack-jawed out of their air conditioned rental cars and RVs at a couple bison minding their own business a few hundred feet off the road.
How did I pull this incredibly terrible assignment? Well, let’s just say having a mind of your own isn’t appreciated in those parts. It’s the same reason Han Solo got kicked out of the Imperial flight academy. (Yeah, that was a Solo reference. At me, I dare you) Honestly, at that point, if the caldera had decided to blow, I wouldn’t have been terribly mad.
Anyway, I’m getting distracted from my story. One of those slack-jawed idiots had ventured away from his vehicle towards the 2,000 pound beasts who were, again, just minding their own business eating some grass and checking out a dope geyser. In his hands, he carried a bulldog.
Interestingly, the bulldog had an air of royalty about it. Not like a King or Queen, mind you, I put it at something in the neighborhood of an Earl.
As I drove by slowly, careful to avoid any pedestrian collision related lawsuits, the bulldog mustered up all its gumption (or it thought it was a normal day at the dog park, who’s to say?) and jumped out of its lumbering owner’s arms, sprinting straight toward one of the bison.
I had to pull over and watch. This was some of the most compelling content I was bound to see in all the long months I was due to drive around a glorified water spout. Also, I was instinctively reminded of a diary entry from my great-great-grandfather, US Marshal B.W. Fox, who wrote about a bison vs eagle fight all the way back in 1849 and I thought this might be my chance to add to his legacy.
As the bulldog skidded up in front of the lead bison, I got the feeling that these bison had been in this situation before. The lead one looked young, very young, but still clearly had command of the situation. If he hadn’t dealt with this exact scenario before, he’d been prepared for it his entire career. He knew to stick to his training.
The bulldog let out a couple of barks, as if to say, “I’ve been here for a minute, and I’m on your level now.” Of course, that made no sense, but I felt the truth of the statement in spite of myself. Sometimes a fictional narrative reflects the truth better than cold hard facts. I know that because I watched The Wire.
Amazingly, that did nothing to get the bison to back off. He stamped his foot and lowered his head, communicating very clearly from my perspective, “you want no part of this ground attack, little fella.”
They just stood there and stared at each other, but I could see the game going on between them. Minute after minute passed as they just looked into the eyes of their opponent, the advantage traveling back and forth several times as I stood rooted to a patch of grass on the shoulder, transfixed.
At one point, when it seemed like the bulldog might be gaining an advantage, the wind kicked up, blowing the white pedals of the woodland star flowers into the air and sending them cascading down around the two animals like streamers.
Finally, just as the clock seemed to be running out on the feasibility of the situation, the bison charged. For the first time that afternoon, the bulldog seemed shook. It took a couple of steps back and growled, but the bison kept advancing. At that point, the bulldog made what I would deem a wise business decision and bolted, or at least ran as fast as a dog with legs like that can.
The bison went back to eating its grass like nothing had happened.
Now, I know that might not seem like an interesting story, but for a second I really thought that a bulldog was going to take on a fully grown bison and win. I really need to get assigned to something in the backcountry.