'Hero' Dog Dies After Saving NC Mom From Bear; Family 'Heartbroken'

BLACK MOUNTAIN, N.C. (WNCN) - A five-pound toy poodle named Pickle found his way into mom Tiffany Merrill's heart four years ago.

"He's always with me all the time -- always by my side. If I went to take a shower he was taking a shower right there beside me. If I went to bed, he went to bed -- very loving," said Merrill, a married mother of two children.

Around 5:45 a.m. Friday, Merrill opened a door at her Black Mountain home to let Pickle out for his morning walk.

She says the door was only open for a moment when a bear came into the family's house, which is near Swannanoa.

"I would say he was about 150 to 200 pounds -- very aggressive (and) not scared at all," Merrill said about the bear.

She feared for herself and her two children who were in their bedrooms.

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