Let’s talk about Bear

Yesterday I wrote about Sky Food, and how much fun we have with Bear. It’s had me thinking about just how precious that dog is to our family.

Bear arrived in our hearts a little more than 2.5 years ago. My little Dotted Dog was getting older and having some problems (although she lived more than 2 years longer – she really loved her life with us) and I decided to take a casual walk through the SPCA in town. I’d decided to look at smaller dogs even though I’m not a small dog person. The Dotted Doggie was 45 lbs and I was thinking that one more in the 20 lb range would maybe be easier.

I know there were other dogs there, but all I remember is this big black dog named Shine (it’s still weird to see his “old” name, he’s so clearly supposed to be called Bear) lying sadly at the back of his cage. When I asked about him, I was told that he had been rescued from a reserve in Saskatchewan, had been adopted out of their SPCA three times and had been returned each time, and now was becoming a long time resident. They also said he was wouldn’t be good for long walks because he was quite lazy and needed to live in the country.

2 hours later the kids were back at the SPCA with me walking this 100lb black ball of hair down the road. Sure enough, after a few steps he just lay down and refused to move. After some gentle prodding we convinced him to get back up, walked a while longer, decided we were in love and returned to the centre to adopt him.

I think they thought we were crazy.

He’d torn up the last house he lived in, before coming to the SPCA he’d spent his whole life as an outside dog (and he was 5 at that time). But his eyes. There was something about his eyes.

Somehow in the adoption process, he became the girl’s dog. It’s almost like God knew she would need him and directed us to where we could find him. I didn’t know it at the time, but my girl was in crisis and over the next year or so that dog loved her, grounded her, and helped heal her. I have gratitude for this old man that I will never be able to adequately express.

So there’s the thing about Bear, he’s not the lazy dog I was lead to believe he was. He’s an “independent dog” due in large part to the fact I’m fairly sure there’s Pyrenees in his blood lines. This means that he knows what we ask of him, but he chooses whether or not he will respond. Independent thinking is what makes guardian dogs so good at their job, but when you want him to come inside it is hard to remember that. Just like Bear can go from 50 to 0 in a second, he goes from lying completely still to 100 in the blink of an eye.

Not only has Bear’s loving soul touched the hearts of the humans in our home, but he is loved by all the other animals too. He’s the one who found Jasmine the kitten who had been abandoned by her mom at 3 weeks old. She was screaming in the compost bin in the old garden which was a ways from the house, and in a place where we never would have found her. To this day, if Bear is in the house there’s a good chance Jasmine is attached to him. Abu the anxious has recently started rubbing up against his legs. In fact, it’s not uncommon to walk into the kitchen and find Bear lying on the floor with at least one cat curled up with him.

He is so patient and kind with the crazy bundle of energy puppy I got this summer after my beloved Dotted Dog died. She sits on him and jumps on him, and when he’s tired of it he flattens her with no effort, but has all the patience in the world for her.

When I think of the kind of person I’d like to be, I am inspired by this dog. He is huge, he’s got vicious and powerful teeth, he could rip anyone apart in a second. But instead, he lays down with the cats, he plays with the puppies, he lets the humans hang all over him. And he does it with love and kindness.

He carries with him years of abuse. I can see it if I grab a stick, or move too quickly. Instead of becoming aggressive, he cowers. When he came to live with us, Bear was severely depressed. His entire world had been turned upside down, he didn’t have love or people, he was so, so sad. So he knows there’s bad stuff out there that could happen. But that’s not how he lives. He is basically just a happy dude living his best life with his family – life goals.


Sky Food

A few weeks ago (months? I’ve lost all track of time in COVID) I was bored in the evening and started playing what we now call ‘Sky Food’ with Bear.

He was lying on the floor near me and I had some extra cheese so I threw it up in the air and it fell near him but he didn’t see that I was the one who threw it. I ended up breaking up a whole slice of cheese and throwing it in various places for him to find.

Eventually Bear figured out it was me, but because he’s a good sport, he honours the unspoken Sky Food rule and never looks at me or acknowledges that I’m throwing the cheese.

After a while the girl joined me and she’d throw her cheese from a different part of the room

Then Bear’s cat Jasmine (his cat because he rescued her as an abandoned kitten and she adores him) became involved in the game. She yells and runs after the food making sure he finds every piece.

Finally the boy joined us, and now we have a fun family moment every evening where we play Sky Food with the giant dog and the small cat.

These are some of my most precious times. They don’t cost a cent, instead they are like money in my memory bank of loved moments with my family. This is what it’s all about and I’m grateful for it.

Our little cat with her big dog friends

Lullabies for the puppy

Well, my cute little puppy is now 6 months and she’s at least 60 lbs and only a couple of inches shorter than her 97 lb brother. She’s got teeth like the Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood and talons on her feet that can take on wolves. She’s a ball of both focused and stubborn energy (depending on which part of her heritage she’s channeling), and the most lovable thing you can imagine.

She will go outside and bark to the world that she’s the most ferocious beast, but will come inside and crawl into one of our laps and fall asleep “dog purring”.

Every morning, after her morning bark and run, she needs to start the day with her lullabies. I put on Deva Premal, my puppy crawls up onto the couch beside me, or the big chair if it’s available, lies down and has a lullaby nap. it’s the cutest thing, and it’s amazing how the music calms her. It calms me too.

Stop looking at me, I was napping
Whatcha doin???
I love this face


So this happened….

So it turns out that the loss of our beloved Dotted Doggie was harder on me than I thought it would be. I mean, she was 16, she survived the streets of Tennessee, moved with us to Rhode Island, Virginia, and then flew home to Alberta with one very disgruntled cat where she had over 5 years of happy ranch living. She was my companion through the worst and scariest times of my marriage, while my parents died, while I got divorced, and while my kids were sick. She was just there.

And then when she wasn’t the house was just so empty. I said to myself “self, this is stupid. You’ve grieved so many things in so many ways, maybe it’s time to grieve differently”.

So this happened….

My new girl

And I’m totally and completely in love. She’s just the best little ball of goo and in this photo you can kind of see her angel wing heart on her chest.

But what really got me was her “baby photo” where I could see not only her angel wing heart, but her little dotted legs. Which don’t seem to go with her brindle colouring at all, and it’s like our little Dotted Dog sent her to us.

Love is endless, I will always love all my animals whether they’re here or waiting in heaven. But there’s a certain joy and peace that comes from having a true blue, loyal companion.


When it’s time to say goodbye

Goodbyes are hard no matter how many times you have to say them. Saying goodbye forever to someone you love and who is part of your family is painful.

It’s been a week and a day since our beloved Dotted Dog unexpectedly left us and went on her heavenly journey. I mean at 16 it was somewhat expected, but she was doing so well and was such a powerhouse of love that we felt she’d be here forever.

The house is so quiet without her and our hearts miss her so much. There’s a lifetime of memories for my kids with her – she watched them grow up. In many ways she was my partner in raising my kids and was most definitely an irreplaceable member of our family.

She loved us when we were unlovable. She was there for us whenever we needed her. And while she struggled with her own anxiety issues. She in turn taught us patience and compassion.


How to deskunk the 🐕

A few days ago I read on Keystone Equine’s Facebook page that the best way to get the skunk smell out of a dog is Vagisil. Yeah.

I tucked that information away hoping I wouldn’t need it, but sure enough last night Bear got face to side with a stinky black and white

Omg the smell. I thought I’d pass out. I used some of the pet store skunk stuff I had but it didn’t really make a difference.

One sad night for our poor dog.

Today I left my pride at the house and went to Walmart asking for the largest container of Vagisil powder they had.

I’m glad I don’t have much pride because that stuff worked miracles. I now has a fresh, non skunk smelling happy dog.

That is a happiness moment.


Soccer and ball

Spring sports are going strong in our house, one kid had soccer, the other softball. I love it, they’re doing what they love, but I have to say my hands are frozen solid after sitting at the field for a few hours.

We brought Bear to the game, he loved all the attention, and the boy took him for a little walk. He’s brought a lot of happiness to our little family. I love these little moments, they’re what make up the big memories.


And now there’s Bear

I seem to have developed a rather odd coping skill for mourning those people I have loved and lost. I adopt pets.

Today marks three months since mom died. And apparently I dealt with that by adopting a dog. We named him Bear and he’s a cuddly, fluffy, gentle, huge bear of a guy.

Our Dotted Dog loves him, the kids are over the moon about him, the cats tolerate his existence. Bear thinks he’s died and gone to heaven.

We need some happiness infused in our lives, it’s been a rough few years. All of us are animal people and they bring a kind of peaceful joy.

He is happiness