Bear Offers a Shoulder 7/9/2010

I’ve always felt that God puts us in certain places at certain times to encourage, cheer up, laugh, or cry with someone.  That happened again one day this week, only it was Bear who was in the right place at the right time.

Blake and I had just finished a 2-hour walk and had come off Pontiac Trail onto the West Bluff.  Blake wandered off to take a few photos from the fence line overlooking the Straits of Mackinac, and Bear, Maddie and I walked over to the shade of a stone wall.  Bear had spread out on the cool grass with his head between his paws, and Maddie was busy sniffing out anything that might be hidden among the rocks. 

A couple was walking toward us up the road, and as they approached, I saw them stop in their tracks and stare at Bear.  One of them – I really don’t know which – said, “Oh my gosh.” 

They came closer and stopped just off the grass, and the woman said, “Can I pet your golden?”  Of course, I said yes.  The young man stood in the road, with his arms crossed over his chest and looked on as the young woman sat down in the grass next to Bear, buried her face in his shoulder and her hands in the silky fur of his chest – and started to cry.  When I looked at the man, he seemed to be struggling with tears also.

After he had gained some of his composure, he told Blake and I that the day before they left home coming to the Island, they had to put down their golden retriever.  The dog was only two years old, and had fallen victim to a fatal type of brain lesions that made the decision to end his suffering necessary.  He had only been ill for two days.  He told us that they were leaving the island the next day, and all they had been able to think about was going home to that empty house.  And then they saw Bear, who looked so remarkably like their dog that they were stunned.

The lady sat up straighter, pulling Bear’s head into her lap and rubbing his head over and over again with long sweeping carresses starting between his ears and ending at his shoulders.  Bear lay quietly and enjoyed the attention, seeming to sense that what he needed to do was just be still.  The lady told us that they had already put in a request for another golden and hoped to have a new puppy soon.  The man said that they had both comforted themselves knowing that their golden had given them everything he had to give in two years, and he kind of chuckled when he told us that at first they couldn’t believe how much hair one dog could shed in a day, but even that became part of what they loved about their friend.

We chatted a little longer, they thanked us for allowing them to indulge in a good cry all over our dog, and then they continued on their walk.

Thinking back to this young couple who were so heartbroken over their loss, I’m reminded of the little  six-year-old boy who witnessed his dog put to sleep. The vet wondered aloud why dog’s lives were so much shorter than humans, and the little boy said this:  “People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?” The little boy continued,”Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

By now that couple has returned to their empty house, but I pray that very soon the sound of four little golden paws will be heard scampering through their home again.  And Bear hopes so too.



Note:  Blake is leaving on Saturday afternoon, flying to Atlanta.  I’ll be back to my regular blogging “schedule” on Monday morning, with some great island photos I’ve been taking this week.  See you then!  God bless.


16 thoughts on “Bear Offers a Shoulder 7/9/2010

  1. What a beautiful tribute to our 4 legged heroes. They don’t need to pretend or impress….they just have to be themselves. I love Bear’s quiet acceptance of someone’s need to have some face time to ease an aching heart.

  2. Awwww…wiping tears away now. Bear was perfect. Such a good boy! He gave such comfort to them. I hope they have their new puppy soon too.

  3. Before I read the story, I showed Gary the header photo and watched as he tried not to smile! (He thinks my obsession with your blog is a little over the edge!) I think I will download the photo to look at whenever I need a smile in my life! I do appreciate our Lady’s big sloppy grins too, but that photo is special, as was the story!

  4. I have tears in my eyes. I’m so glad Bear was able to give the young couple comfort and then I chuckled at the hair comment, having just swept up what seemed like a whole kitchen floor of our dog’s hair while he chased the broom around barking at it. Enjoy your weekend and safe flight to Blake and good luck with his job search!

  5. Like others I had tears in my eyes when I finished reading about Bear and the young couple. God was using Bear in a wonderful.

  6. Awww I love you Bear! You remind me so much of my Rocky . It has been 3 years and I still miss him an aweful lot. 😦 .

    Safe travels to Atlanta Blake, I hope you find the job you want.

  7. What a touching story. You know how to get the tears flowing so early in the day. Our dogs are surely our best friends. They love us no matter what we do. Thanks!

  8. I am typing this through my tears!! I lost my lab when he was only 5 years old due to a disease and I was devastated for a long time. I would also pet labs and cry sometimes. Hoping the people of the pets I was crying on would not think i was crazy. Your story was so sweet and made me feel like other people understand. Dogs can sense when people need them and Bear was such a good boy to lay there and let that lady grieve. Thank you again for that story. It has touched my heart this morning.

  9. Brenda,

    It’s a sad, and yet, very uplifting blog. I sure hope that young couple get another dog soon.

    I think Bear should have received an extra for being so nice.

    I’m going to save your quote of what the little boy said. How great the insight of a child can be!

  10. Bear is a special “angel”. He even looks angelic. They always know the right thing to do. He will be perfect for what you are going to be trained to “let” him do. My father is in long term care and the patients always love the pets and “special” dogs that are brought in to see them. It always lifts their spirits, even when they are not really aware of what is going on around them. Keep up the great work Bear!! It is truly sad to lose a pet.

  11. Oh, that is so sad. I am so glad bear could be there to comfort them. I know there pain to lose an animal. I hope they will get another special pup to love. Thanks for the pictures also. And good luck to Blake on his journey to Atlanta.

  12. Okay … I look like Tammy Faye Baker right now … with mascara running down my cheeks. Bree you definitely have a way of getting my water works going.

  13. Jeez, I am sitting here at my computer bawling while my 5 year old boxer shepherd mix, Harley, lies on the floor behind my chair. She is my first real pet, so stories like this always hit home for me. I loved the story about the child at the vet – it’s spot on.

  14. Wonderful story. Dogs are angels from heaven! They are sometimes smarter than us humans.
    You have two precious friends.

    Pat Steele

  15. Oh boy, I’m just catching up on your blog from a weeks long vacation. And I am crying. I missed my dog so much while we were gone. I was so happy to see Isabelle when we got home yesterday. We sure do love our dogs. And I think sometimes we secretly miss our pets more than people while we are separated!

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