updated 2/26/2007 7:26:32 PM ET 2007-02-27T00:26:32

Jason Schindler says he wouldn't be alive if it were not for his dog, Dude. The 27-year-old rural Cataract man said the 8-year-old mixed-breed hound jumped between him and an attacking black bear Thursday night, saving his life but giving up his own. The animal sustained at least 28 puncture wounds to his chest and neck, he said.

"I'd hate for someone else's dog to go through what mine did," he said.

Schindler and his wife, Kimberly, buried the dog with a blanket and pillow the next day, using a rented jackhammer to dig the grave in the frozen soil.

He said he heard the dog yelping loudly Thursday after dark and went out to see what was happening.

Suddenly, "all I saw was this dark thing lunging at me," Schindler said.

But his dog jumped between the two and was quickly snatched up in the bear's jaw, he said.

"If not for the dog, I wouldn't be standing here," Schindler said.

The bear, estimated at between 400 and 500 pounds, dragged the dog to his nearby den under a thicket of downed trees.

Schindler said he returned to his house, grabbed a .30-30 rifle, returned to the scene and fired, possibly hitting his target before the bear fled into the woods. He rescued his dog, gushing blood but breathing, and rushed him to the Sparta Veterinary Clinic.

‘Miracle dog’
He said Dude was the last of a litter of puppies available at the Monroe County Animal Shelter when Schindler adopted him.

Another week in the shelter and he would have been euthanized, Schindler said.

"I saw him lying there alone in his cage and I felt so bad for him," he said. "In a way he was a miracle dog."

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