Bear has come up in conversation frequently over the last few weeks. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been around a lot of dogs lately, and for some reason or another, it’s prompted the achey pang of loss and missing.
I hadn’t thought about our dog in a very long time until recently. Watching a recent video of him with my son didn’t help either. It’s one thing to have static pictures of someone in your mind–and quite another when they come alive in front of you, as if no time has passed. Jumpy, happy and still chocolate brown, I watched him race around my son in excited anticipation of some great adventure. And they had many–mostly involving chasing and retrieving what we called “monster sticks.”
As Bear aged, he never lost the puppy. Even with brittle bones and achy, displaced hips, the crazy dog found the skip in his legs when my son came home from high school, dodging his head back and forth, waiting for one more toss of the monster stick. My son would gently comply, tossing the thing fairly close so old Bear didn’t have to prove himself anymore. But old dogs still need to know they can still perform old tricks. And so it was at our house.
Toward the very end of his life, Bear slept a lot until the towering pine of the front lawn. When my son would get home from school, he’d sneak up on him and get on the ground with him. I’d look out the window and see the two of them, cuddling in a hug on the front lawn. Two buddies taking a nap.
He died a month before my son left for college–leaving us with a double loss.
I wonder why my thoughts are wandering to those days of Bear and sticks. It’s not an unpleasant thing, really–you know, missing someone. Especially someone that fundamentally changed me. My friends who are reading this are most likely howling, because they know I am not a dog person. But knowing Bear and loving him made me one.