"Thank you for the honour and privilege of taking care of you."  - Joyce

BearA.jpg (21495 bytes)In our eyes, he was handsome above all others. He had thick, black shiny hair that formed a beautiful mane. His dark eyes sparkled with silent laughter and he almost skipped when he walked. At first appearance, you would think he was a tough guy as he would slightly bow his head and give a low growl. But deep down inside, we knew he was a softy. He was just trying to give the impression that he was in charge, even though we knew better. On rare occasions, he would decide it was time to play. He would come bounding into the room and want to wrestle with anyone who had the energy. Sometimes I would let him think he got the best of me but Mom wouldn't play fair. She would always win, or maybe he would let her win. Most of the time you would find him sitting quietly, looking across the yard, watching the world go by.

Even though he had almost everything he could possibly want, life had not always been good to him. He had gotten hurt in a couple of scuffles with others and those old war wounds periodically came back to haunt him. He didn't want us to know, but we could see it in his eyes and in the way that he walked. He became an old man before his time.

I'll never forget when that final day came. He was laying real still and my wife was stroking his face with tears in her eyes. "Thank you Bear" she said. "I'm going to miss your cute ears." A few moments later, he was gone.

Bear, our chow, had two knee surgeries in less than a year. His body never healed. We learned that he had a degenerative bone disease. Toward the end, when he could not even stand up on his own, we painfully knew it was time.

Have you ever lost an animal you loved so much that the memories burn your soul and tears silently dampen your pillow at night? Your logical mind tells you this was just an animal, but your heart knows better. This was a family member. I could hardly stand the thought of putting Bear to sleep. He had been a friend and faithful companion for several years. He had stayed awake, countless nights, guarding his yard against pesky squirrels, cats, birds and even the howling wind. Other dogs were not even allowed to walk down our street without him notifying the world of his displeasure.

His low pitched bark does not resound around our house anymore. One of our other dogs has pitched in to carry out the duties that Bear left behind. He does a good job, but it just isn't quite the same. The work is not executed with the same passion. Bear was as regal as a lion. Even though he barks loudly, Sargent is a friend who wants to play ball with you.

The hardest part of putting Bear to sleep was watching my wife. Her intense sorrow broke my heart. When he left, I held her close and we cried together. It was as though we had lost a child. To this day, I am not sure what hurts the most, missing Bear or knowing the pain my wife feels when she remembers him.

It's okay to love our animals. There are times our hearts can be so filled with love, that it spreads even to the animals that God placed on this earth. Animals allow us to love them when humans sometimes won't. They return the affection that can be so elusive in human relationships. Have you ever wanted a human to be as close, loving and loyal as an animal you have loved? On the other hand, have you been as approachable, loving and loyal as the animals that you have loved? Maybe we could learn a lesson from them. Maybe that is one reason God allows us to have those experiences.

I learned alot from Bear. I learned alot from my wife during that time. I learn alot about unconditional love when I watch her care for "God's little animals". Maybe it helps me be a better husband. I hope so. She deserves it.

Read the 11th chapter of Isaiah and count the number of times animals are mentioned. They are an integral part of God's plan. He created them for a reason.

Matthew 10:29
"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father."

He knows even when a sparrow falls. How much more does He love us?

See ya Bear. Sarge is taking care of the yard for you.

- Rod

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