We have now placed over 1,000 dogs and as much as they were all special
there are a few that stand out in my memory because of something they taught me. One such dog is Bear and from
him I learned to pay attention and listen to a dog when it tells me something through it's posture, attitude and
eyes. The eyes (especially Bear's) give an entire explanation if you are intuitive enough to read them.
Bear passed away May 8th and while his death came without warning the last gift
he gave his owner was expected because of the dog he was. Bear had seemed to enjoy a good day, playing outside, teasing his
Shepherd sister Braxie and playing the clown for whoever would laugh at him. That night the two dogs and their owner retired
for the night and shortly after Bear whimpered. His owner, being the doting woman she is, went to him and held his head while
she reassured him it had just been a bad dream. Within moments, however, Bear took a deep breath and released it
as his last. His tongue fell from his mouth and she knew he was gone. There are no words to explain the devastation she felt
and even though many of us know all too well what it is to lose a dog this one had played a role in life that made a human
Bear had been owned, as a pup, by a young woman who had adored him. After the first year of his life
though she had to give him up because her circumstances changed and she could no longer keep him. She gave him to a family
who promised to love and care for him always but when she got a phone call from her local shelter saying her dog was
there she knew they had lied. Bear was in a cage confused and waiting. The young woman went to get him immediately and because
her parents had adopted a dog from us in the past they called me. Bear was a big boy and I wondered how he would react after
being passed around and betrayed. I never worry about a dog I can work with because we always seem to come to some kind of
an understanding. I have baked peanut butter cookies for an aggressive dog and won her over through her nose and I have
removed a muzzle for a nervous biter dog after he appeared to promise not to bite me. This time however, I couldn't take Bear
home with me - we had no room. He needed us though so I arranged to take him to a woman I had never met but who needed a dog
to mend her heart and heal her wounds. I had to trust both Bear and the woman.
We literally shoved Bear in the back of our car and as his head hung over my shoulder panting I wondered
how I could love him so much so soon. I had looked in his eyes and he wasn't confused and he wasn't resentful - he was simply
intent on a mission it seemed. We arrived at the woman's house and Bear walked right in and took her breath away. She knelt
down to embrace this big two year old boy and he rested his head against her. She is a tiny woman so they were quite a pair.
We stayed for a while to make sure all went well but in truth we just felt as if we were in the way. We agreed to leave Bear and
when we walked to the door Bear followed us. I had enough ego back then to think he might not want me to leave and
that the bond we had quickly developed was just as special to him as it was to me. As it turned out it was quite the opposite.
Bear walked right to the carpet's edge but stopped and sat down where the foyer tile began. I looked him carefully as I had
never seen a dog be so clear in letting me know he was staying where he knew he belonged. His eyes said " I have
been making my way here for a long time and I thank you for the ride".
Bear did know he belonged with Rosanna
and she knew it too. Together they found a life that suited them both and they would do anything for one another. He
made her laugh daily and she dressed him up in costumes against his will, but he let her because she seemed to enjoy it so.
Braxie, the Shepherd, joined them when I urgently needed a home for her and she too was embraced by them both. Bear just loved
life and the joy he contributed brought the sun out on cloudy days. His last gift to Rosanna was to let her know he was leaving
her. Dogs typically do not show their pain and they take themselves off to darkness to die. Bear, however, knew that
Rosanna needed that last moment with him and I am sure he needed it just as much.
I was told the morning of
his death and I cried for him, for Rosanna and for myself. The world has shifted slightly without our Bear. Knowing him warmed
my heart and opened my eyes to a deeper sense of dog than I had known before. I will always cry a bit for Bear but following
that I will smile for all the times he found light within the darkness and shared it.