Thursday, April 23, 2009

Missing Bear

The picture on the left is Bear when he was just a couple of months old. The top right is Bear as a old man and the bottom right is his Playdog of the Month pose.

While sitting at the lunch table at work, I said that I'd been thinking about getting a dog. I had called all the free ads in the paper but every time that I called, the dog had already found a home. My friend said that some people she knew from church just had a litter and she would bring me some pictures.

When Nikki brought the pictures on the following Monday, she showed me one of this little black dog with brown eyebrows and paws. She said that God told her that he was the dog for me. "His name should be Bear, " I said, since he looked just like a little bear cub. The puppies weren't ready to leave their mom so it would be a couple more weeks before he could come home.

During the next two weeks, I had talked myself out of getting a dog for various reasons. Nikki had decided to take one of the puppies that she had named Whitesocks so she asked me to ride along. I called my husband and said, "I'm just going to look. I'm not bringing a dog home." Famous last words. After a ride into the country that seemed to last forever, we arrived at the farm where the puppies had been born. I tried to hold Bear but he really didn't like it. He had a mind of his own. I held a few of the other pups and even considered getting this cute little female that kept cuddling me but Bear was the one that I kept coming back to. Besides God said that he was the dog for me. You can't argue with God. You can only imagine what happened next. I was riding in Nikki's car with a Bear on my lap. He was so tiny that I could hold him in one hand. When I put him in the kitchen that first night, he cried even though I put a ticking clock in his bed. I couldn't stand it. I got up and carried him to bed with me. He snuggled up and fell asleep. I fell in love.

Bear was the first pet that I ever had unless you count the numerous goldfish that met with their death while in my care. Oh and my imaginary fleas that I thought my parents bought at the flea market. I never knew how attached you become. I could sit and just watch him whether he was playing or sleeping. He made me laugh on a regular basis in those first months. He learned to jump up on things, how to chew the heel of every pair of black pumps that I owned and he had his first affair with a stuffed animal named Grover. You know, Grover from Sesame Street. Grover was his first lover and he humped that thing whenever he had an audience. I guess that's better than humping someones leg.

They say that dogs are man's best friend and for a very good reason. Bear was loyal and protective even if he was a pain in ass sometimes. When I was upset, Bear would give me the most understanding look, give me a kiss on the hand and sit by my feet. He loved to take naps with me. During the few years when I was a stay at home wife, I got into the habit of taking a little siesta around 3:00 every day. If I was even a few minutes behind schedule, Bear would give me the look and walk to the bed. "Come on Mom, it's time for our nap", he said with his eyes and expression.

I think he was part of the reason that I stayed in a bad marriage for five additional years. I didn't want to be away from him. He had become my child since I don't have any human children. When I finally did move out of my home, it broke my heart to leave Bear behind but he had a house with his own yard if he stayed with my husband. I was staying in a motel and didn't know where I was going live. I never had any regrets about walking away from my new house, money or stability but it was killing me to lose Bear. He wasn't adjusting to being without me either. He started to have accidents in the house and destroy things. He was ten years old by now and had not done any of these things since he was a puppy. Everyday I wished there was a way that I could have Bear with me.

A couple of months had passed and Bear was no longer convenient for my husband. After a bunch of drama, yada yada yada blah blah blah, my wish came true and Bear came to live with me and Mike. The vet said that his misbehavior was most likely due to missing me. He was acting out. Once I brought him with me, we were like peas and carrots again. Life was sweet. Mike and Bear became inseparable as well and things went along just fine for the three of us.

Last year, we lost Bear. He was fourteen and a half years old. His fur around his chin had turned white. He lost most of his eyesight due to cataracts. He had slowed down considerably and his weight had dropped nearly 20 lbs. At the beginning of the winter, I thought it would be a miracle if Bear made it to spring. We had a long conversation with the vet. I know he was trying to prepare me for the rocky road ahead but I had already seen the look in Bear's eyes. He seemed vacant and didn't always respond to his name. He was diagnosed with doggie Alzheimer's. We knew something was wrong because he was barking during the night. Mike and I would sleep in shifts with him because he was only quiet when someone was with him. The poor guy was disoriented and scared.

A week later, I had to make the most gut wrenching decision of my life. I had to let him go.

My heart is broken...still.

Bear Blue
(July 23, 1993- April 21, 2008)

Many thanks to the doctors and staff at Appleseed Veterinary Clinic. They helped us through a most difficult time with so much compassion and care.
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