ASHEVILLE, NC -- There's a reason we call dogs man's best friend. These four-legged pets are some of the most loyal animals around.
That is why one North Carolina family is so heartbroken after losing their little pooch to a bear attack.
"I thought I was gonna die," said dog owner Tiffany Merrill.
Merrill was home when a bear broke in, threatening her and her kids' lives.
"I started yelling for my kids. 'Shut your doors! Shut your doors! There's a bear in the house,'" she said.
That's when Pickles, the family dog, sprang into action. He was able to distract the bear and lead it outside, but tragically this would be a fatal decision for Pickles.
"There was nothing I could do. I wanted to go out there and jump on the back of the bear and save my dog," said Merrill. "He was always with me. If I stayed up late, he stayed up late. If I wanted to go somewhere, he wanted to go somewhere"
Merrill says she will miss Pickles but hopes her story will serve as a warning for others when they spot a bear.
"They're way more dangerous than what you think they are. After what happened to me, like, who would have ever thought that'd happen? Not me."
And as for the memory of this family dog, they say they will always remember him as a hero.