Monday, January 26, 2009

Ode to Bear Dog

When the Husband and I had been married for a brief 5 years and we were a month away from completing the gestation of the Boy, a small ball of brown fluff joined our little family.

The puppy was christened, "Teddy Bear" by the almost 3 year old Eldest daughter. He did look like a teddy bear as a puppy. But the name was soon shortened. To Bear. All 7 pounds of him.

Bear had a few names. Bear dog, of the Husband's friends affectionately called him 'Punt' and bugged Hubby about getting a real dog one day. And my 6' 1" Husband called the dog Buddy and Buddy Boy. Only the Husband called him that.

For 14 and a half years, Bear worshipped the hallowed ground that the Husband walked upon. 14 and a half years of greeting the Husband as he walked in the door after a long day at work. 14 and a half years of the Husband letting him out to pee just before heading to bed. Years of cuddling on laps, dancing for treats, play wrestling with the cat, throwing up in car rides that were longer than 10 minutes, and carrying around a stuffed animal that was half his size.

As the years passed, Bear became the part of the family that seemed like it had always been there. Been there through moves, family additions, sadness, happiness, holidays, and trips to Grandma's house. As time moved on, and Bear grew older, he became the dog who was curled up by the fire, or under the table in the living room, or curled up by the door, waiting for the Husband to return home.

The past few weeks, he became the dog who was curled up under our bed, sleeping most of the day away. But no matter where he slept, he was still in the kitchen at the first sound of a plate being scraped or the pantry door being opened because that's where his cookies were kept. He still had it in him to steal the 90 pound dog's bones. And Bryn, the massive black dog would stand there, towering over Bear, looking forlornly at her bone as that 7 pound dog tried to chew on it with his last few teeth.

On Friday, I cooked up some bits of chicken for the Bear to eat. When he walked away from his little food dish, chicken untouched, I knew the day was near.

On Saturday, when he wouldn't come out from under our bed, I called for the Husband. And the Husband lovingly brought him out and we bathed that little dog who was too tired to get up to go outside to go to the bathroom. We put him in his bed by the fire and blow dried his hair till he was warm and dry.

Saturday night was a night for 'last time's. His last cuddle on the Husband's lap. His last sleep by the fire, his last drinks of water through a plastic syringe because he was too weary to drink from a bowl brought to his lips. It was a night of the Husband lying next to him by the fire, with the Bear dog lying there and looking lovingly at the Husband who was his best buddy in the world. And the Eldest and I sitting close by, petting him at times and letting him know it was ok to go to sleep.

And in the wee hours of Sunday morning, he passed away. A life well lived. And our family feels different.

A little dog who's bark was as irritating as nails down a chalk board. A dog who had horrible breath. A dog who looked like a little old man, liver spots showing through his patchy hair, his nails clicking on the linoleum as he walked through the kitchen. A little dog who I had to let out 30 times a day and who's yap had grown so high pitched it hurt your ears when it went off at the sound of any bump or thump in a 2 mile radius. A little dog who was becoming incontinent. A little dog who used to lick the Husband's feet. As soon as the Husband would take off his socks, that dog would be over there like a shot and his pink tongue would be jutting out between the Husband's everyone's disgust but the Husband's. A little dog who still enjoyed life's simple pleasure of toe jam.

A little dog who helped teach my children about life's circle. Of life and death. Of grieving and remembering. Of life continuing on, despite the little hole that is now there.

We buried Bear in my parent's back yard, among other loved family pets. As the Husband shoveled dirt back into the hole, the Baby stood close by, waving at the hole and said, "Bye Bear! Bye Bear!" The Princess stood there with tears streaming down her face, and I stood there, my arms around the Boy and the Eldest.

The sun was shining brightly. Ribbons of clouds brushed against the blue sky as we said goodbye and the Princess told Bear to have lots of fun in Heaven.

Bye, Bear dog, you will be missed.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for making me cry.

Do you remember The Boy gave him a middle name?

colleen4 said...

I keep getting the same complaint about the crying.

You should have seen me when I was writing it.

And I DON'T remember the middle name.....I'm a horrible mother.

Anonymous said...

Bear "Uncle Lloyd" Mahoney

colleen4 said...

WHAT??!! How come I don't remember this!!??

sjb said...

Crying too! I have lost a few very cherished 4 legged companions as well. Colleen, you are a phenomenal writer. I'm sure that book will come soon.

Debbie Clark said...

Colleen, the tears won't stop! I'm in my office and it's 9:08 and mascara is mixed in with tears streaming down my face. Yikes, I have a client coming in to see me in 10 min! W&B sent me your link so I could see K's grad pictures (which also made my cry), my little flower girl of my past life. LOL. You are such a beautiful person, as I remember you the first time I met you over 20 years ago... Oh boy, don't ever let me say that again. 20 YEARS AGO!?!

I'm enjoying reading your Mahoney Musings - - and keeping updated on the chidren. I don't think I have ever seen the baby, but princess is even cuter than I remember.

Take care Colleen, and thanks for the good cry at work! LOL

Debbie (Mahoney-Clark)

MahoneyMusings said...

@ Debbie.

Thanks! So good to hear from you. Sorry to make you cry at work!