Our First Rescue Dog: Bear

BearInYardBear came into our lives when we were still mourning our beloved Golden Retriever Worf, who was our constant companion at home, out windsurfing, or hiking and snowshoeing in the mountains. He was our Hero Dog who showed us the trail when melting snow concealed our return paths in the forest. He was “Happy Dog,” as a little girl in a stroller named him when we were out for a walk, and Test Anxiety Counselor for Thor’s and my students at the university. Big paw-prints to fill!

As we started pondering a new dog to join the family, Thor was set on another Golden, as they generally have suchWorf&SaraInMountains great dispositions. So when our friend Brenda, who fosters rescue dogs for a local group that saves animals from “high kill” shelters, told us we had to meet Bear, an indeterminate Chow-possibly-black-Lab mix she was fostering, we were skeptical. Thor had heard that Chows tend to be aggressive, but Brenda assured us that Bear was a very mellow fellow who got along with all people and animals with the exception of squirrels….

We met Bear, who really is a big teddy bear – and when we took him for a hike in the forest, he looked like a mini bear emerging from the wild. We were surprised by how well-behaved and calm he is, especially for a youngster who’d been found wandering in Idaho and had spent time on “death row.” Thor took him to campus to see how he’d do as test-anxiety counselor, and the students went into a rapturous lovefest, which Bear lapped up. Thor also reports that it didn’t hurt when they got smiles from all the pretty gals as they crossed campus.

Bear&ThorDec2014yardThor then left him briefly in his office, where as a paleontologist he has shelves full of different animal skulls. Accustomed to Worf’s perfect manners, Thor was surprised to return and find Bear munching happily on a pig skull he’d selected from the display obviously provided as dog treats. Another strange discovery: Bear likes to back up to a bush or tree, wiggle his butt, and deposit his load. Somewhat of a challenge to collect in a doggie waste-bag.

The biggest challenge yet was awaiting at home, with our cats Tucker and Turtle. They had arrived as rescue kittens while Worf was still with us, and they grew up adoring him. Not so with Bear. I don’t blame them—he must look terrifying to them, and unfortunately they seem to resemble squirrels if they take flight. So while we all make adjustments and Bear starts obedience classes, we have built dog-proof, cat-permeable gates in the house to establish safe zones, and we keep Bear on leash in the yard if TNTinTreethe cats are outside. Tucker already is curious enough to creep close and sniff Bear’s tail while Thor holds Bear’s collar. Turtle has performed a hilarious Ninja Cat routine creeping around the edges of the family room in slow motion to check out the sleeping Bear.

Not without some anxiety and sorrowful pangs of comparison with Worf, we’ve decided to adopt our new doggie pal. Initially a bit subdued and cautious, he’s now cavorting in the back yard, so I think he approves of us, too.



About Sara Stamey

Award-winning author Sara Stamey’s journeys include treasure hunting and teaching scuba in the Caribbean and Honduras; backpacking around Greece and New Zealand; operating a nuclear reactor; and owning a farm in Southern Chile. Resettled in her native Pacific Northwest, she taught creative writing at Western Washington University. She shares her Squalicum Creek backyard with wild critters and her cats, dog, and paleontologist husband Thor Hansen. Visit her BVC Ebookstore bookshelf.


Our First Rescue Dog: Bear — 11 Comments

  1. Sara – lovely rescue story. We got our most recent cat in a “rescue” sort of way. The neighbors, who we did NOT know, drove away, leaving Freya to fend for herself. Thankfully – after three months of living under another neighbor’s porch – she wandered down the hill and put her little kitty self in my lap and asked to come in from the cold. She makes us laugh every day.

  2. Poor Bear! He probably learned that bones had a lot of nutrition, while he was in the wilds. It says a lot for his temper that he let Thor take it away from him–or did Thor allow him to keep the skull and just moved the rest? Sounds like glass case time!

    May you have many happy days together.

    • Thanks, Kathi. We don’t have any history about Bear other than that he was found wandering in Idaho and taken to a shelter. But I think he must have had good people in his life somewhere along the line, as he is very social and polite. Everyone he meets loves him, and the feelings seem mutual. (Except, ahem, my cats and the neighborhood squirrels…)

  3. This warms my heart so much. We go into the ‘new family search’ with hopes and expectations, and so often the perfect one shows up and blows our expectations away. I promise you, we never intended to end up with a chihuahua, and yet she’s such an important part of our family and brings us so much joy, after such a short time.

    I look forward to more Bear updates!