The Muse

Monday, June 8, 2015


Bear and Little Boy Darling on the Green Trail of Bliss

I woke up this morning thinking of Bear, Daughter Dear’s perfect dog.

It occurred to me that while there was drama around Bear, he was unruffled.  A more steady peaceful and calm dog would be hard to find, maybe never. He was one of a kind, all 200 pounds of him.

Remember Bear? He was the one my husband stretched a kennel for so he could be transported to Hawaii with more comfort than the largest airline approved commercial kennel provided. From Oregon Continental Airlines took the modified kennel. In Hawaii Aloha airlines took it, but then upon leaving the Island, United Airlines would not take it. The kennel had been modified. It was not acceptable. They wouldn’t budge.

That was nine o’clock in the morning after we had white-knuckled it up and over the mountain because a tanker had turned over blocking the regular route from Hilo to Kona. We rushed into town, and there purchased the largest kennel we could find—lucky they had one. It was a tight fit, but Bear accepted it graciously. We missed the first plane. “Have him here at noon,” they said, “the plane will leave at two.”

The plane was delayed.  Bear was in lockup until 6 o’clock that evening in a kennel that fit him like a wet suit. He made it to L.A. by nine the next morning seemingly none the worse for wear. We were.

One day on the Island as we were walking in our back forty—really, it was the back five, a Doberman dog furiously barking rushed at us. Bear stood, a protective shield between the dog and one-year-old Baby Darling.  Dogs bowed to his calm demeanor. The neighbor rescued us from her dog and we never saw it again.

Newfoundlands are considered natural baby sitters. Nana in Peter Pan was a Newfoundland. But Newfoundlands are big, as was Bear, and people renting houses think a dog ought to be 30 pounds or less. (Little dogs can do far more damage—you figure.) We were rejected from a place we thought we had rented, and thus arrived in Eugene with no house. It turned out perfect, a property manager trusted us, accepted us, took our big dog, we love our house, and Bear has not harmed one square inch of it. He never chewed, scratched, and always asked to go outside. I said the main risk was tripping over him.

Six years ago Daughter Darling commuted from Eugene Oregon to Medford, a five hour drive. There she worked 40 hours in three days at a Domestic Violence shelter,  I didn’t worry because she had Bear with her.

Bear even died perfectly. He had gotten down, and with his weight we couldn’t lift him. He could no longer maneuver the two steps into the house, and so he spent the last few days in the yard. Daughter languished over whether to have him put to sleep. The appointment was for Tuesday, the Vet said she would come to the house. Bear died on Friday, peacefully in the yard—protecting Daughter Darling to the end.

And this morning he gave me the message that while drama, chaos, whatever is happening all around, it is not your’s. You can remain calm, like Bear. I probably won’t, but you get the idea.

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