Personal Note: Good friend, blog fan and dog lover Lowell Greene emailed me yesterday and requested I repost the blog below. Of course I wept when I read it – remembering those moments as if they happened last week. I don’t know if I’ll ever read or think about Bear without tearing up, but that’s ok. Great dogs bring great love. And they leave great memories – just like the one below.
This was during one of Blake’s summer visits to Mackinac.
Thank you to island friend Eugenia Murray-McGinnis for sharing the header photo, taken this morning on Mackinac!
BEAR OFFERS A SHOULDER – First Published July 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 rRtriever. The dog had only been two years old and had fallen victim to a fatal type of brain lesion that made the decision to end his suffering necessary. He had only been ill 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 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 caresses, 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 they had both comforted themselves knowing their golden had given them everything he had to give in two years, and he kind of chuckled when he told us 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 furbaby.
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 dogs’ lives are 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.