Bear - 1997 to 2012
About 15 years ago, our 12 year old daughter wanted a dog. I guess one reason was because our family dog, Shasta, has recently passed away. But more than that, this daughter has always been an animal lover. All she wanted to do during her teenage years was to move to Africa and save the cheetahs. But that is another story. She wanted a dog really bad, in a "Where the Red Fern Grows" kind of way, without really caring what kind of a dog that was. She would put newspaper clippings for free dogs to a good home on our pillows at night. This went on for some time. So when Christmas was getting close we went out to Grantsville and found 'Bear'. This puppy got it's name because of the shape of her head - kind of like a bear. She was all black with a spot of white on her chest. She never did have a tail - I don't remember removing it - so the deed must have been done before we got her. We brought her home Christmas eve, and then tried to keep her quiet in a box in a closet for a surprise the next morning.
Bear grew up to be a very powerful dog. She never learned to walk calmly beside you. She was always pulling. The kids had her pull them on sleds in the winter and on roller-blades in summer. She like to herd, but the only thing she ever had to herd was small children. The more they ran from her, the more she liked it. She was not good at fetch, in fact she would retrieve ball or frisbee and just lay down on it. We tried to have her be an inside dog, but it never really worked very well. She was well house broken, but she was just too big. She liked to get up on the couch whenever she could. If we left her in the house, she would be up on the couch until we came through the front door. She had absolutely no poker face - "what? me? i wasn't on the couch". She once had a difference of opinion as to who should eat a chocolate - and one of our sons got a pierced ear over it.
When we moved to Virginia, she traveled the 2,000 miles in a crate in the back of the Suburban. We let her run free for a while at Adaom-ondi-ahmam, but she came back. I think my wife's idea of living in Virginia including having all of the animals run free. That works fine for cats, but dogs, rabbits and turtles - not so much. I don't know how many times we had to bail Bear out of jail after she was picked up by animal control usually after a thunderstorm. You will remember that she has a bear shaped head and so her neck was about the thickest part of her and it made it really easy for her to slip out of a collar. We did what we could to restrain her. I even put in a invisible fence - complete with a shock collar. That actually worked for a while, until she decided she would rather run and get shocked than stay in the yard. And this was not any small yard. We allowed her about 2 acres. After that, she spent most of her time on a zip line - a rope stretched between the house and some distant tree with a pulley attached to her leash and collar.
On a Thanksgiving Day, Hobbit showed up and stayed. The two of them were good friends for the last 7 or so years. Over the last couple of years, Bear started to show some grey around the muzzle and started to slow down some. She would still pull, but she got tired easier and towards the end her hind legs would shake. The day we had to take her to the vet, my wife brushed her for a long time. She seemed to appreciate that.
Rest in peace Old Bear. It's lonely without seeing you on the back deck every morning.