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

A birthday, a ridge walk, and an ethical dilemma

Dad would have turned 80 yesterday. I looked for a photo yesterday to post on Facebook with a memory, and was surprised when I typed “dad” into my photo search at what I found. I was expecting lots of photos of him being the “creek monster” in the water throwing grandkids around, or playing in the snow with delighted children. Instead, this search was full of photos of Dad sitting quietly and reading to “his kids”.

What it really drove home for me was how willing he was to give us what is so precious – the gift of time. Both our parents really valued giving us and their grandkids their time. And at the end of the day, while things can bring a certain level of happiness, the memories of spending time with someone is where it’s really at.

So, with that in mind, my sister and our crews went for a social distance walk along the ridge where dad used to take us. It was a beautiful way to honour him.

I had a moment yesterday morning where I had to reflect on integrity, and deciding between keeping myself safe, or doing the right thing. These were things dad and I used to talk about a lot on our walks, and it seemed so appropriate that it was a choice I was given on his birthday. I decided to do the right thing (although I did sit on it for a while because that temptation to stay safe is a strong one.)

There is a certain comfort that comes over my soul when I choose the right thing. in this instance it helped someone out who I didn’t know, but who really needed it. This was a low danger example of choosing between safety and doing what’s right, but it really highlighted for me that I can’t actually feel safe if I’m not honouring what my soul tells me is best.


One more day of assessments

I’m in the final stretch of the current class I’m taking – psychological assessments and it’s been a brutal class. I have, however been very fortunate and I’ve had an absolutely excellent professor which has made a world of difference in my attitude towards the class.

For me, it’s been brutal because of some self discovery. We had to to 2 psychological assessments on ourselves, and while I don’t argue the results, it was a bit unnerving to see all my shit laid out like it was. They stressed over and over in this class how we are to always read and thoroughly understand an assessment before delivering the results to the client and I now completely understand and support that belief.

Beyond that, it’s helped me change how I will interact in relationships moving ahead as I finally have understood my attraction to bad boys (who really are just assholes) and won’t be heading down that path ever again.

Right now though, it’s just got me tired as I sit at my computer writing my last paper (that’s due tomorrow).

On the page where we write our daily questions, I noticed that our prof left us the kindest and most encouraging message. He not only mentioned how blessed he felt to have us as students over the last 5 weeks, but said that he would love to provide references and is a practicum teacher. He wished us luck and told us that we all ROCK.

It may not sound like a lot, but this prof made this class seem much more personal than many online classes are. It’s challenging sometimes when we are all behind our keyboards at home to find support and feel like we are really part of something, and he managed to create a feeling of togetherness and support. I will miss him, but I’ll be keeping my eye out for him as a practicum teacher! I am very grateful for this experience, even with the tears and swearing that accompany it.


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


Ride a pony

The last couple of weeks, I’ve switched it up from riding the gentle giant thoroughbred to a cute little grey pony. His colouring reminds me so much of my old horse Rolex, but his size and the fact that he’s half Welsh reminds me of Pirate the wonder pony. It’s so weird to be on a pony who reminds me so much of two of my great past horse loves.

Being on him I can remember how I felt on Pirate, they were probably some of the most free moments I’ve ever had in my life. We were invincible together and still when I look back at some of the crazy things we did and the jumps we cleared, I am in awe of our bond and our combined courage.

At this stage of my life, it’s really good to be reminded of how I felt when I was brave and courageous. I actually don’t think I ever stopped being brave, it just got clouded by anxiety and insecurity (and abuse). Every time I go for a ride, I feel like a more whole, complete version of myself.

Every girl should know the love of a horse

Current Grey Pony

Unplanned quiet and Clean kitchen surprise

Yesterday was a long-ass day. Most of it was good, but it still was long and involved a trip to the doctor and X-ray for my girl. As we left X-ray, I ordered us Indian food, which besides Italian is our comfort food of choice. When I arrived to pick up the food, something had gone wrong with the order and I had to wait quite a while. I’d left my phone in the car with the girl, and found myself in a place that smelled awesome, played funky music, and besides the music, was fairly quiet aside from other people coming in to pick up food.

So, I sat in their chair and waited. Waited without a friend, without a kid, without a phone, without a book. Just me and my brain. You know what? It was some of the most peaceful time I’ve had lately. I just sat there and thought of all the things I was grateful for, how much I love my town, and how my life has slowly evolved into one that I’m absolutely loving.

And then I got a discount on my food for waiting which was even better.

The girl and I got home to find out that the boy had been feeling a great deal of school stress and had decided to channel that into cleaning the kitchen. So the job I’d been really not looking forward to upon my return was done. As someone who has no “back-up adult” in our family, I can’t express how awesome it is to find some of these chores done for me without having to ask for it.

And so we sat together as a family and shared our meal, shared our time, shared our love.


Make Up Dirty Words

One of my proudest accomplishments as a parent is the fact that my kids know the entire “Boot to the Head” album by heart. The Frantics have been a favourite comedy group of mine since the ‘80s and it’s the kind of humour that only a few people seem to get. I’ve got a sister, cousin in law, and friend with whom I can talk in a “Frantic” way with, but the rest of the world usually just looks at us like we are crazy. Especially if someone brings out a blueberry pie. Fortunately my children are also fans so we can continue spreading the humour.

Today the girl and I were at the mall and we walked between a kiosk and a store, we were looking at two women dress a mannequin in the storefront when the kiosk man approached us. The girl had her back to him so she didn’t know he was there and she wiggled her eyebrows (the only part of her face I could see) and said “they’re changing the mannequins today” in the weird voice we use when we think we are being funny. We both burst into hysterics and the poor kiosk man spun on his heels and bolted.

They’re changing the mannequins today is part of a skit by the Frantics called “Make Up Dirty Words” and it’s a favourite of ours, but until today no one actually got to use that line. It was perfect. Gosh but that kid of mine is funny.


Crappy, stinky helpers

Bear woke me up ridiculously early this morning, which he hasn’t done for a while now. I very begrudgingly got up and went to grab the puppy to throw them both out.

Well it turns out the reason Bear was up and so distressed was because our dear puppy had a gargantuan sized accident in her kennel. Let’s keep in mind this cute little thing weighs about 60 lbs now, so you can imagine (I’ll spare you the details but it was scarring).

As I had my head in the kennel, wiping as fast as I could while I cried on the inside the boy woke up and walked by. Instead of turning and running, he asked how he could help.

I almost cried. Even just the offer was so kind. He saw I was in a really crappy (hah) situation and instead of leaving me to it, offered to help. He refilled the bucket for me, but mostly just having him there supporting me through this shit job made me feel better.

Part way through, we noticed Jasmine sitting on the piano next to us watching me work. When we would talk to each other, she would chirp in like she was part of the conversation (and she was). Jasmine often shows up when one of us is upset and kind of hangs around until things are better. Because things are always better when you’ve got love and support.

So, I’d finished this post thing morning but it failed to upload. I’m thinking it knew that I would have more to add. I came home this afternoon to find my super cute puppy (ugh) had once again been out playing with her friend the black kitty with the white stripe 🦨. This is the second time in 4 days and I’d foolishly hoped she’d learned the first time.

This time it was the girl who was around and immediately jumped in to help. Not a fun job, but we all survived it, and in much better shape because we worked together. I’m so thankful for my tribe.

Here’s the poor little girl sleeping off her early morning

My first snowbow

The girl and I were driving home from Costco yesterday (which was exciting enough itself, I love that store) when I looked to the north and saw a giant rainbow.

Now, it’s October in Calgary, and there’s a ton of snow on the ground and the weather was sunny and about +5C which is not your typical rainbow weather. We checked where the sun was (waaaay south in the sky), and there’s no way it was a sun dog. It really was a rainbow.

We waved at it, and briefly pondered the meaning of this sign. Who couldn’t use a little reassurance from beyond that everything will be ok?

This morning I looked it up, and it seems that snowbows are a real thing, but I’m not sure they aren’t meaning sundogs. This was not a sun dog (I see them often). This was a real rainbow and was in the opposite “end” of the sky.

Whatever the reason that it was there, it was really cool to enjoy and beautiful to look at. I feel honoured we were able to see it.

* edited to add- apparently this really was a thing https://cochranenow.com/articles/was-it-a-rainbow-or-a-cloud-iridescence-over-cochrane-yesterday?fbclid=IwAR1wOKvYvmdX-r2FHvax7wzfKiPuSdKBB-McSo2pFzxi-3WYewGRSp5Y3Ek