You try so hard to protect your dogs and keep them from harm, but at times fate has the upper hand ...
I have written about Bear in the past. He was a German Shepherd that I rescued from the pound. Animal Control had picked him up almost dead from starvation. The tops of his ears were eaten away by frostbite and fly bites. When I saw him at the shelter the sun was shining on his head and he looked like an angel ... so gentle and wise. The sign on his cage said "Very gentle dog ... very nice dog". But he was 8 yrs. old and in bad health and I knew he didn't stand a chance of being adopted.
I came back a couple days later and he was asleep ... he looked so sweet sleeping like a puppy, accepting whatever fate dealt out to him. That is when I decided to take him.
When he left the shelter he could barely walk, his legs were shaking and he ran into the wall. Some people followed me out and inquired about him. I told them his sad story and they thanked me for caring for him. He stayed at my vets for about 3-4 weeks so he could continue to recover and to be treated for the heartworm that he had. I visited him there whenever I could. He was like stone ... did not respond to petting or attention. I could see what a horrible life he had led and I couldn't wait to make it up to him.
We went for walks almost every day through the woods to our lake. He had an immediate reaction to my husband ... he just loved him. His ears pricked up whenever he saw him and he tried to follow him wherever he went. I always put him up at the barn with him whenever he was working on something or in the basement. He was so happy "hanging out" with him. He slept down in the basement and had to have a light on all night or he got extremely upset. During power failures we had to put a candle down there with him. The cat downstairs became very very attached to him and mothered him to death. She fretted over him and became upset if he was gone for a while. Many times I saw them sleeping together with the little cat curled up in his arms.
Bear couldn't move very well, although there were some days he was able to run, especially when trying to follow my husband. His sight was very bad and his hearing wasn't good. The last couple of weeks, I had to carry him up the stairs. When I first got him he was so proud of himself when he learned to go up the stairs. I could tell he'd never been in a house before, or a car. He loved being in the house and did not like being tied outside, which I'm sure he endured for most of his life. Many times he got a far away look in his eyes and I felt that maybe he was ready to go home over the bridge, but I could not bear to lose him. I had to care for him so much and do so many extra things for him that I became very attached to my wise old guy. He had a proud and strong spirit. I felt privileged to care for this kingly soul ... and so did the cat.
Saturday we sprayed for fleas and I tied him to the barn, not realizing the post where I attached the cable did not touch the ground. While we waited out in the yard for the flea bombs he walked away from the barn and no one saw him. Hours later we noticed him missing. We stayed up the entire night looking for him. Most of the night I spent crying while searching for him. I slept one hour and then got up when it was light to look for him again. I went to the shelter to see if he was there. One dog there was sitting with his back to me and he was sitting just like Bear did. My heart leapt with joy but alas it was not him. On the way home I was convinced he was on our property somewhere and determined I would spent the entire day scouring every inch of the place.
I took my dog Wolfie with me and we began the search. It wasn't very long until we walked down a peninsula that juts into our lake. It is a swampy area and you would not realize that you were walking into the water at first. I thought of this as I walked to the end and knew this is what probably happened. I turned my head and there he was floating in the water. It was a horrible thing and I was in shock, but at the same time he looked so peaceful.
I ran crying back to the house and my husband and I returned in the truck. His attached cable was still on the land and we pulled him in. We cried over his body, touched him and talked about what a wonderful dog he was ... about his life. In the meantime little frogs and unusual creatures appeared - wetland wildlife ... baby crawdads, tadpoles ... One tiny tiny frog sat on Bears body. One little lime green frog appeared and sat next to Bear looking at us with a big smile on his face. It was almost like a meeting of the faeries over this special creature that had shared their watery home for a time. As we lifted up Bears body a sudden procession of dragonflies of all sizes and colors flew up and hovered over him as if paying tribute.
My husband wanted to take him to the vet but I wanted him to have a nice spot in the back yard and he finally agreed that it was what he deserved. This morning while I was asleep he drove out and got Bear some flowers which we placed on him before he returned to the Earth. About a week ago while walking Bear I found 3 blue feathers and kept them because they were so pretty. At Bears burial spot I found another blue feather laying there.
I don't know if I have a picture of him. There is a film in my camera that has been there over a year and his picture may be in there. I am hoping so much that it is. Something kept telling me all week to take his picture. And Bear's cat ... She is so lonely and I don't know how she'll cope without Bear. He was her life. I am going to try leaving another dog down there with her at night and hopefully she'll become attached again. She doesn't like cats ... only dogs. My heart goes out to her and I need to take extra special care of Bear's little pet.
There is something very special about an old dog and without him there is now a big void, even though I have so many other dogs. They are all very unique and special....not just "a bunch of dogs".
Kindly Contributed By:
Lori Campbell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Update: Lori wrote, "... Two years later ... to the DAY, I was walking my dogs outside in their yard and there was a blue feather laying in my path ... the first I'd seen since the one on his grave. Coincidence? I don't think so ... A message, and a gift of love from Bear."