Colin Dowler survived a grizzly bear attack July 29, 2019 on Mt. Dougie Dowler on the south coast of British Columbia and reports that his physical and mental rehabilitation is still ongoing. Photo courtesy Colin Dowler

Colin Dowler survived a grizzly bear attack July 29, 2019 on Mt. Dougie Dowler on the south coast of British Columbia and reports that his physical and mental rehabilitation is still ongoing. Photo courtesy Colin Dowler

‘Bad-ass dude that took on a grizzly bear’ doesn’t let 2019 B.C. attack bring him down

Campbell River’s Colin Dowler gets on with his life as his rehabilitation continues

It’s been nearly two years since Colin Dowler freed himself from the claws and teeth of a grizzly bear using a pocket knife.

And as he continues to recover physically, he has reflected on the traumatic attack with a degree of humour, dwelling on the wonder of the incident as well as refusing to let it paralyze him with fear and anxiety – at least, so far.

“I’m comfortable being the bad-ass dude that took on a grizzly bear with a pocket knife and won,” Dowler said.

RELATED: Campbell River man recuperating from harrowing grizzly bear attack

He spends most of his time focusing on the perseverance part and draws strength from the knowledge he survived.

“I largely choose to, like, focus on, you know, the awesomeness of the event. How cool it is and I survived it,” Dowler said. “And how well I’m doing in recovery, as opposed to dwell on all the potentially crappy parts.”

But he does wonder whether he’s doing himself a disservice by refusing to be traumatized by the incident and whether putting it into that kind of context is “shallow and egotistical.”

It was July 29, 2019 and Dowler was returning down a logging road on his mountain bike after an overnight hike up Mount Doogie Dowler – coincidentally named after his grandfather – located on the remote Ramsay Arm northeast of Campbell River on the British Columbia mainland.

Two kilometres into his nine-kilometre ride back to the logging camp from where he set off the day before, he came upon a grizzly bear about 100 feet in front of him walking towards him. A standoff ensued with the bear trying to approach Dowler who fended him off with his bike. He tried tossing his backpack to the side to try and distract the bear and he even prodded it with a hiking pole to no avail.

The standoff escalated when the bear swatted at Dowler’s bike prompting Dowler to throw it at the big animal. The bear stepped over the bike and bit into Dowler’s left flank and carried him to the edge of the road 50 feet away. Attempts to free himself by such things as gouging at the animal’s eyes, peeling its lips back and even playing dead at one point were all unsuccessful and the animal continued biting and slashing at Dowler.

Thinking that he was a “goner,” and as thoughts about his wife and kids came to mind, he remembered he had a knife in his pocket. After a few attempts he was able to pull the knife out and jab it into the bear’s neck. The grizzly immediately let go and backed off.

During the subsequent standoff, Dowler treated his wounds, tying a tourniquet and then crawled back to his bike. Eventually, he was able to get on it and rode the final kilometres down the logging road to the logging camp where he was given first aid and a Medevac helicopter was called to take him to hospital in Vancouver.

Dowler was thankful for the logging crew that treated him at the camp and was impressed with the emergency medical help he got from the medevac crew to the emergency medical personnel at Vancouver General Hospital where he was flown to.

“Canadian healthcare at its finest,” he said. “I know from firsthand experience that we have a phenomenal healthcare system, full of people that truly care,” Dowler said.

His recovery has been a two-year process that at first was positive and encouraging but he does admit to feelings of frustration over how the recovery process is still ongoing.

“If you go back a year, I was ecstatic about how far I’ve come in such a short period of time with my recovery,” he said, “up to and including running a half marathon in September 2020.

“Now it’s like, oh man, some of the things that I thought were going to, never happened, or at least, maybe haven’t come along as far as I’d hoped.”

RELATED: Grizzly bear will not be relocated after hiker 36, bit in ‘defensive attack’ near Pemberton

RELATED: B.C. man drives to hospital following grizzly attack

On the mental front, Dowler is not completely cavalier about the whole incident. He recognizes that there’s a possibility that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) could catch up with him. He has pursued mental health support but has not been considered a person in high need of it. He has had a stressful period related to work but he doesn’t know if that is normal work stress or related to the bear attack.

“I’m curious sometimes, if I’m suffering post-trauma or if I ever will and if I do, how will I know that it’s connected (to the attack).”

But for now, he assesses it as a “life-changing” event but doesn’t spend a lot of time on the negative.

“I just don’t seem to draw much value from focusing on the dramatic part,” he said.

HOMETOWN HEROES LOTTERY:

Dowler is telling his story to show his appreciation for the quality care he received from Vancouver General Hospital and to support the Hometown Heroes Lottery which raises funds for specialized adult health services and research at VGH and UBC Hospital, GF Strong Rehab Centre, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and Vancouver Community Health Services for all British Columbians.

Ticket purchases also support programs of the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund; including programs for burn survivors and resiliency programs for first responders.

Ticket sales for the 2021 Hometown Heroes Lottery run until July 16, 2021 or until tickets sell out. The 2020 Hometown Heroes Lottery tickets sold out over a month early. There are over 3,200 prizes worth over a total of $3.2 million, including luxury homes, appliances, furniture, cars and cash.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.heroeslottery.com, by phone, 604-648-4376, or 1-866-597-4376, or in-person at any London Drugs.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

twitter.com

Campbell Rivergrizzly attack

 

Colin Dowler survived a grizzly bear attack July 29, 2019 on Mt. Dougie Dowler on the south coast of British Columbia and reports that his physical and mental rehabilitation is still ongoing. Photo courtesy Colin Dowler

Colin Dowler survived a grizzly bear attack July 29, 2019 on Mt. Dougie Dowler on the south coast of British Columbia and reports that his physical and mental rehabilitation is still ongoing. Photo courtesy Colin Dowler

Just Posted

Joseph Albert Brooks, 94-years-young pf Prince Rupert offers traditional prayers and smudging to the sick. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Heart of our City: Joseph Albert Brooks keeps smudging and praying for others

94-year-old Tsimshian elder just wants some help washing his floors

Land along Prince Rupert’s waterfront, PID 012-247-391, where residents say excessive industrial train noise is stemming from, has been found to be owned by the City of Prince Rupert and is not federal land like first presented, Prince Rupert Environmental Society stated on June 17. (Image: supplied by Land Title and Survey, Govt. of BC.)
Error found on land titles map may assist city with noise control enforcement of industry

Prince Rupert residents had been told there was no municipal jurisdiction to enforce noise bylaws

Department of Oceans and Fisheries has announced as of July 19 chinook salmon is not to be fished in certain areas in BC tidal waters until July. Spring chinook salmon are seen swimming. (Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish & Wildlife Service)
Chinook Salmon limits set to zero in some BC tidal waters

DFO implement restrictions to protect Chinook Salmon

Visitors to a pop-up temporary aquarium in Prince Rupert will have the chance to see marine ecology from July 21 to Aug. 15, like this viewer watching sea anemones at the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert pop-up aquarium will bring sea level to eye level in July

A permanent peak to reef ecology centre is in the planning stages by North Coast Ecology Society

Prince Rupert’s Ellen Wright and Graeme Dickens jam out during filming the two Ring System Studio concerts to be broadcast on television during June. (Photo: supplied, H. Cox)
Ring System Studio sounds on television

Two concerts by the Prince Rupert music school will be broadcast in June

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The B.C. woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Most Read