A Day in the Life of Bear

Gone but not forgotten.

On Sunday, November 2nd, 2014 Lisa and I made a trip to the Lompoc Animal Shelter.  We had been informed by Cody and Jill, from Shadow’s Fund, that they had a senior German Shepherd in need of a foster home.  When we met Bear, she seemed a bit scared but very well mannered; a perfect fit for our household as our previous dog had been a German Shepherd who we lost at the age of 14 yrs.  Arrangements to pick her up were made and we went on with our day.

Monday afternoon, Lisa headed to Lompoc and picked up all the essential toys and needs a dog would want, then she picked up our new family member.  After a day of acclimating Bear to our home and our curious cats, I returned home from a day at the Good Life.  It was a connection like no other.  Bear would not leave my side, literally following me from room to room and even waiting for me outside the bathroom door!  For the next week, we would go on daily walks and spend our days together at the shop.  Mid-week we received a call from Jill at Shadow’s Fund letting us know that a former neighbor of Bear’s read, in the paper, that Bear had been surrendered to the shelter and as she knew Bear and how sweet she was, she wanted to adopt her.  Val called us and told us about Bear’s life before us.  Knowing we were going into this as fosters, we thought it was a good situation; someone she is already familiar with and had spent time with.  We planned for Val to pick Bear up on Saturday, November 8th before we headed out to the Paso Robles Garagiste Festival.  It was apparent, Bear knew Val.  Val informed us that Bear used to have a trick, where she would smile when asked.  To make sure it was her, Val said “smile, Bear, smile” and she did with lips curled and teeth showing, she let out a little snort and wagged her tail.  We were satisfied that the two would do well together.  I can’t lie, I was a little teary eyed at that moment.  How?  How, after only 5 days could I have gotten so attached to this dog?

Throughout our day, we received multiple texts from Val letting us know that Bear was slowly acclimating to her new surroundings but she wasn’t sure this was going to work as Bear seemed sad and kept returning to sit by the door.  We assured Val that she probably only needed time and to give it 24 hours.  More texts came in as the afternoon went on and we headed back to Solvang to get the shop open.  Finally, Val sent a text that Bear had made her way outside and headed straight to her SUV, twice; she was ready to leave.  Val was convinced that Bear had made her decision and that I was her human, and we were her family.  Val asked if she could bring her back that night and not quite sure what was really happening, we agreed. 

Later that evening Val walked into the shop with Bear on leash.  There were probably about 4 guests in the shop and while we do not remember who they were, I am sure this was a night they remember to this day.  A moment that I will never forget.  Bear’s eyes hit on me, her ears went back, her step quickened, and Val let go of the leash.  She bounded over to me, all wiggles and snorts and all I could do was hug her.  At that moment, we knew we had failed…we were foster failures.  Bear had rescued us and would spend the next 5 ½ years training her new human and cat family members on the importance of loving unconditionally, taking a daily walk outside in the fresh air, expressing joy however and whenever you feel it, what it means to truly live life to the fullest and in the end, she taught us the true meaning of living a good life.  Rest in peace Bear, it was our honor to be your family.

“Gone but not forgotten is the perfect phrase.  Smiling from a star that she makes glow.  Trust she’s always there, watching as you grow.  Find her in the place where the lost things go.” – Mary Poppins Returns “The Place Where Lost Things Go”, Emily Blunt

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