Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My friend, Bear

I'm really sad today. I lost a sweet friend. His name was Bear.
While I've only known him for almost 8 years, I've also only known this house with him across the street.

He was a quite and old gentleman – I'd hear his collar jingle every so often when he was out for a walk or just a short potty. He rarely barked, but did so only when other male dogs were on his turf.

Our neighbors asked us to care for their animals when they traveled - so we'd get special time with him & his Basset Hound companion, Bertrum. His younger brother would always steal the show, hard to compete with a cartoon-like dog like Bertrum. But I always took Bear's lead. Maybe because
my husband could always keep up with a Basset's energy better than me. Maybe because I always will have a soft spot for old, male dogs. Maybe I kept treating him like I used to my old, male dog - Alex.

I held Alex's head on April 2nd, as he took his last breath. I'm still not over losing the dog of my life,
14 years ago.

But Bear was at least 17 years old, so he got to have more sunrises & sunsets than most large dogs. He was always "old man" to me, but the last 10 days his body failed him. He could barely sit - he'd prefer to lie down or simply shake and stand. If he stood, he chose to lean on nearby legs.

We were privileged to care for him for 3 days this past weekend. I am an out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of person - so to take care of him so close to the end was very emotional. Watching him fail gave me memories of watching Alex fail so many years ago.

All we could do was comfort Bear, give him yummies, and let him know that we understood. He accepted our gentle pets and kind words as if he, too knew the end was soon. I think we have many lessons to learn from old dogs. Bear always greeted me when he saw me. He didn't judge me by my weight, or clothes. He just cared that I cared.

At about 1:45, Bear took his last breath. I'm sorry your body failed you - I'll miss you, old man.

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