"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Friday, March 27, 2015

Six Years with Bear

I am terribly behind in writing this post. Months behind. I made excuses, and some were valid. We lost our cat Lucy near Christmastime, and the weeks after that were difficult. There were added stressors, and other things that seemed to get in the way. 

But, every year, I have looked so forward to writing this post and sharing my memories of sweet Bear. I realized finally that my hesitation is rooted a little bit in fear. Time is passing so fast. Bear is six. How can that be? For some reason, this year is hard. Passing the five year mark, he is less of a baby, and at times, I can see it. His once cast iron stomach, which was affected by absolutely nothing he ate—from lipstick to light bulbs—now gets queasy and upset from overdoing it with treats. His boundless energy, which I used to beg for a break from—is now a thing of the past. He has spurts of it—definitely—but prefers napping and sleeping in on lazy Sunday mornings. He’s had a few aches and pains, too, back strains that left him unable to jump on the bed for a few days (which had me sleeping with him on the floor) and a few hurt paws and leg strains that made him limp for a few days.

He is actually healthy and in great shape, the vet assures me, as I worriedly take him in for every little concern. He is just getting older. He is not even “old” at this point. It is just hard to watch the transition.

Bear is more than a dog, more than a companion. He is one of the loves of my life, and I say this without doubt or hesitation. A part of my heart will always be his. He found me (and I believe that in some cosmic way he did find me) at the very lowest point of my life. Even then, I didn’t realize that’s where I was. But he came to me then, and was the only heartbeat strong enough to pull me completely out of that pit I was in. There is a magical connection between us, I can’t fully explain it, and I don’t expect others to accept or comprehend it. I am so grateful to him, for loving me, and teaching me to love and laugh again.

This bond with us was unfortunately formed at a time when I was deeply depressed, and now Bear has a sixth sense with me of when I am drifting towards that abyss. There is a knowing look in his eyes that both comforts and scares me a bit. How can he know? How can he know when no one else does? He pulls a little closer to me in those moments and stares and at me long and lovingly. I am here—he seems to say. I feel it.

The best example of this is a recent moment in my life that I will never, as long as I live, ever forget. My husband was there to see it, and I am so thankful that someone else saw how special it was.

It was Saturday, December 13, 2014. My husband and I had just come home from letting our cat Lucy go, having her put to sleep, after a traumatic ordeal. Just minutes before we walked in the house, I had cradled my cat of 14 years in my arms for the last time and felt all the guilt of the world rush over me. The moment was bigger than that; I felt I had failed in one of the few things I could rely on knowing how to do—taking care of these fur babies. I came into the house and although Bear and Boone were doing their usual wiggly, happy, welcome dance, I couldn’t engage. 

I tried to make it to my bedroom in the back of the house, and couldn’t. I made it as far as the guest bedroom and collapsed on the bed, lying on my side facing the wall, sobbing in a way that I haven’t in years. Boone came in the room, utterly confused, jumped on the bed and back off. At first, Shea didn’t realize where I went and was looking for me. In the meantime, Bear came slowly into the room. He carefully got on the bed just as Shea entered the room and sat behind me on the bed. Bear crept slowly to me, and began licking the tears from my face. He then carefully laid down next to me and slid his two front paws under my head and neck, something he has never done before. Then, he put his head between my head and shoulders and pulled me close. Shea actually gasped. He said Bear had the most human expression, that he shut his eyes tight as he pulled me close. I sobbed into Bear’s chest for a good bit and held him, amazed at this act of comfort. I won’t ever forget that. I can’t do it justice with my words. But in moments of sadness, loss, and despair, Bear has found me, always.

Bear has a really good life. He is spoiled by anyone’s measure. He wants for nothing. We tell him every day, over and over again, how much we love him. He has a big back yard to romp with his little brother. Boone idolizes him, and the two of them love to play and bark at all the threats that dare come too close to our house, real or imagined. The two of them are regular visitors to the local dog park and one of my great joys is looking across the park and seeing Bear’s huge smile as he takes it all in. He still does laps around the huge park in bouts of what we call “crazy dog”, which actually comforts me, letting me know that he still has some puppy energy in there somewhere. 

Bear and Shea have an incredibly close, special bond that was instantaneous when they met, and part of the reason I was able to open my heart to Shea, when I had thought true love was something for the rest of the world, not me.

Bear is an unapologetic bed hog, taking up most of the space in our king-size bed every night. He will playfully growl if I try to move him, and often kicks both of us in annoyance when we interrupt his comfortable sleeping positions. There are times when it would be easier to make him move to the floor, but Shea and I will share a glance, and although we don’t say anything, I know we are both thinking that he won’t always be here and he gets to sleep however he wants.

At his last vet visit, Bear, as usual, charmed everyone and the vet laughed as he himself was tricked into giving Bear another treat in exchange for cooperation during his exam. The vet let me know that Bear really could lose a few pounds, and that we needed to cut back on the treats. We try, but this face is hard to resist.

He makes us laugh, with his stubborn, funny attitude—his sneaky way of tricking his brother out of his bones and toys, and his human-sounding burps and farts, that still, after 6 years, make us belly laugh every time. He is unapologetic about those, too.

As I write this, Bear is lying next to me, snoring a little, snuggled up as close as he can get, with a paw on my knee. I have been having a rough couple of days, and today for some reason, has been tougher. He knows that. Somehow, he knows.

Thank you for a beautiful, love-filled, happy, hilarious, special, flying-by-too-fast six years my sweet boy. We love you. I love you. You are my sunshine.

All of my Bear posts, year by year:

Five Years with Bear


Commchick March 28, 2015 at 7:31 AM  

I enjoyed this post so much. I feel the same way about my fur babies. They are the only children I have, and I spoil them constantly. I have had to let a couple of them go because of illness, and I know the pain that you went through. Keep enjoying every moment.


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