Bernese Mountain Dogs chew up new car

Posted By elaine on October 21, 2010

These Berners seem pretty proud of their "work" (Gannett Photo)

NEWARK, NJ-When Jennifer Hardbarger’s two young daughters urgently summoned her into the driveway Sunday afternoon, saying the family’s two dogs had scratched their van, Hardbarger was expecting to see a few scratches.

That is until she actually looked at the van, at which point she began to think a bear might have attacked the 2006 Honda Odyssey.

It was missing a chunk of the front driver’s side wheel well, and claw marks cut deeply into the exterior beneath the driver’s side window.

Pieces of black plastic that had been torn away from the wheel well were strewn on the gravel driveway, where the rim of the front driver’s side tire had sunk to the ground, deflated.

“I didn’t know what would possess them to do so much damage,” Hardbarger said of the two Bernese Mountain Dogs — Ivy, 9 months, and Valley, 1 year.

A Licking County Sheriff’s Office deputy who inspected the van said he’d never seen anything like it, Hardbarger said.

The motive for the attack by the dogs, who normally are friendly and, albeit known for scratching things — mainly trash and firewood, said Hardbarger’s husband, Lucas — became evident when a heap of raccoon feces was discovered behind the deflated tire.

Their theory is the dogs cornered a raccoon under the van late Saturday and their protective instinct kicked in.

Someone had to say it, so Jennifer did: “They literally scared the crap out of it.”

The Hardbargers bought the van three weeks ago.

“It’s the nicest thing we ever owned, and this happens to it,” Hardbarger said helplessly as she looked at the shredded plastic in the driveway. “I don’t know how to make sense of all these pieces.”

By Monday, she had begun to see the humor in the absurdity of the situation. It helped that the family’s insurance company said it would cover the damage, although a representative told Hardbarger it was the first claim of its kind they’d ever received.

Dent Solutions, the company repairing the vehicle, estimated the cost to fix the damage is about $3,000.

What became of the raccoon remains a mystery, but the Hardbargers are relatively certain it won’t be back.

Although the damage to the van was disappointing, the family is glad to know they have two dogs that care about them.

“They’re so friendly, and they’re great with the kids,” Jennifer said. “They would never let anything happen to any of us.”

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