Where to begin with the story of the oldest of my three dogs. My Baby Bear. That is what is written on the file folder where I keep her medical records. She is hardly a baby anymore! She weighs in at 50 pounds. But still, she is my baby. When I lost my dog Valentine, I didn't think I could ever love another dog that much, but Bear has my heart firmly in her grasp. I whisper in her ear every night that she is my favorite dog. But I don't have to. She knows. Bear has never suffered from a lack of self confidence, even though she was abandoned in a ditch when she was just a few weeks old. Here's how she came into my life.
Our secretary was having a bad day. Her year old dog was being put down that day for an incurable illness. She was bummed, and we were all bummed for her. It was the day of our office Christmas party, and it put a bit of a pall on the group. But Cheryl gamely showed up. While we were eating lunch, one of the managers showed up with this little black fluffball with a big red velvet ribbon tied in a bow around its neck.
She had found it in a ditch on her way to work and brought it to Cheryl, with all good intentions. Cheryl just looked at it and shook her head. I understood completely. She was dealing with the current situation, didn't need a replacement because, let's face it, there is no such thing as a replacement.
I went back into the party and announced, "I'll take her!" Several people offered to take her if it didn't work out for me. Hah! She was MINE! So I took her home to be the junior dog to Bud, my dog of three years.
Bear walked in the house. I think I have mentioned in previous posts she was an alpha dog. She weighed just a few pounds but that didn't matter. She let Bud know who was boss in short order! She was just IN HIS FACE! And Bud was always such a love, such a gentleman, definitely not alpha, so he just let her take over.
I gave Bear her first bath in the kitchen sink, and once all the fluff was wet, she fit neatly in one hand. When I took Bear to the vet for her first visit, the vet thought she was six to eight weeks old and would grow to weigh under 20 pounds. That was a very bad estimate, and one that leads me to believe Bear may only have been three or four weeks old when I got her. Bear caught up to Buddy's size quickly and surpassed him by about twenty pounds, eventually weighing in at 55 pounds. I think she was tiny because she was very, very young, because she was certainly not a tiny breed of dog. Another reason I believed that Bear was quite young was that she suckled my earlobe. I do believe that is even more awesome than puppy breath! To this day, Bear often greets me with a little kiss on my ear.
Bud and Bear were inseparable from Day No. 1. When I called them, I would just yell, "Buddybear, Buddybear!" and they would come running together. When Buddy passed, I buried him under a cherry tree in the side yard. Bear laid on the grave and mourned.
As a puppy, Bear did not have good house manners and had to be put in a cage. She escaped. I put her on the screen porch. She popped the screens out. She bit me - not once but three times. I talked to a dog trainer after the third bite, and he told me that he thought she had some Chow in her, and that they would try to prove they were alpha to their owners, would bite their owners but no one else and that I had to let her know who was boss. The next time she snapped at me, I pinned her, yelling, "I'M THE BOSS, NOT YOU! $30 AND YOU ARE HISTORY! DON'T YOU EVER BITE ME AGAIN!!!" She was totally subdued when I let her up, and she never snapped at me again.
I realize I must stop now, because I could write a whole book about my Bear. I will close with this note. Bear was diagnosed with Cushing's Syndrome about seven years ago. She had started shaking a year or two earlier, and two vets said nothing could be done. The third vet suspicioned Cushing's and it was confirmed through testing. It is a nasty disease and I thought I would lose her at a young age. Every Wednesday she takes two Lysodrine tablets. Once a year she is tested to make sure the med levels are correct. And she will celebrate her 15th birthday soon. She is still happy. Standing still is tough (that's why she has to lie down to eat) but she can run just fine, and when I come home, she is the one dog who always stops to give me a greeting on her way out the door. It is usually a kiss on my ear.