Bear (11/1/2012-08/25/2021) crossed over the rainbow bridge to doggie heaven this afternoon. There he joined other dogs we have had—Sandy, Misha, Bailey, and King.
How we got him
Bear was a mixed Labrador born in Ohio and brought to Maryland by a local rescue. The rescue posted his story on Facebook, where my daughter, Tiffany, saw it. She knew we had lost our golden retrievers a few years before and thought it was time we became dog people again.
Tiffany went to work on her mom and eventually convinced her to visit the puppy’s foster home. Mom dragged me along and, after a long drive, we arrived. The puppy scampered in and out of the open door, showing off. His antics softened our hard-hearts, and we took the little bundle of energy home with us. Little did we know how he would affect our lives.
Bear was black with white markings on his chest and paws. When adopted, he was a skinny runt that couldn’t have weighed over five pounds. However, he was not a runt but just needed the correct tender care to change.
Bear’s medical problems
I noticed blood in his stools one day. It took two trips to the veterinarian to find out he had worms. These were very small and required specific treatment. He responded well to the treatment and soon grew to be an 80 lb bundle of joy.
Bear blessed us with many beautiful memories when we remember his favorite things.
He loved to play catch and fetch in the house. He had several rubber balls and would bring one, usually, to my wife. Then, he would bark until she threw it across the room. Moments later, he had retrieved it and tossed it in her lap for her to do it again. Sometimes he aggravated her when he wanted to play, and she was on the phone. Many callers have heard his bark in their ears.
I am sure many dogs like to play this game. But what made it special for us was Bear’s ability to toss the ball to her. He would stand near her chair and propel the ball into her lap with a toss of his head.
Sometime years ago, we gave Bear a sponge-like ball that he dragged outside one day. It was softball size and blue. Whenever he and I were out, he would search until he found that dang ball. Then he would toss it at my feet and wait for me to kick it. He was so funny—his head stretched out and eyes locked on the ball like a soccer player anticipating which way the ball would go. I tired of kicking the ball before Bear tired of chasing it.
Bear didn’t like loud noises and especially disliked thunder. So when he was younger, he would try to climb in one of our laps at odd times. We didn’t particularly mind when he weighed a few pounds, but when he grew to be over 80 pounds—No Way! Then one day, we realized he did this before a thunderstorm arrived. So we began checking the weather when he became agitated. Sure enough, he was predicting a storm’s arrival. So we nicknamed Bear “Our Weather Dog” and found him as reliable as any TV weather reporter.
Bear loved to take walks beside our other lab-mix, Duke. The two of them, both near 100 pounds. They demanded, and I complied with walks regardless of the weather. So you could see them walking me down the street in rain, snow, or sunshine.
This reminds me that Bear loved playing in the snow. We have videos of Bear on the back deck doing snow angels.
Bear, we miss you and your antics, but are relieved that you are no longer suffering. Truth, there were few antics over the past two weeks. It was time to let you go and to take solace in the memories you gave us.
Sweet Bear. These animals do leave an impression on our lives. Their favorite balls are always the slimiest, and they don’t understand why we might not want to throw them. Good job kicking it instead.
Our dog would not let us off the hook with walks either. As he explained it, it wasn’t his fault we got in at 1AM. Out we’d go for ‘Just a short walk’, and come back having done the entire round, which he had memorized.
I just heard on the radio that people with dogs have a 24% risk reduction in mortality, particularly heart disease and stroke. Dogs really are the best.
Bear left Duke without a buddy. Duke is another lab mix, part rottweiler. We got him to be a companion to Bear when Bear was several months old. As it turned out, Bear was born on 1 November 2012 and Duke on 12 December 2012. Bear was the active dog, but Duke preferred to lay around and watch what Bear did. The only exception was Duke was the first off the deck if there was a squirrel in the yard.
Now, with Bear gone, Duke is starting to show the nature he hid. He demands attention and forces us to pet him. He also loves to hit me behind the knees when I am getting the leash. I have bruises from the brute!
We do miss Bear, but Duke’s new personality brings a smile often.
We dread and fear losing him also, though we know it will happen. Until then, we will enjoy our time with him.