Today would have been Bears 17th birthday! And it will always be a day to celebrate as she brought the very best of everything when she trotted into our lives. Bear was born and raised in Colorado with a short stint of time spent in California. Bear was a town dog, she freely roamed the old mining town knowing which places would happily give her something to eat. Her first two owners passed away and from what I understand they hadn’t been too attentive to the needs of a dog. Her given name was Jaeger short for Jaegermeister later renamed Black-tongue by her third owner. A name inspired by her black Chow chow tongue. Finally, once she made it to us she became Bear a name we felt would suit her external appearance quite well and later find would suit her spirit more so.
It was the end of a frigid January in 2014 when I walked into my place of employment at the time to see my boss and good friend, John in distress. John is also a compassionate animal lover and has placed several dogs needing homes in the past. Many years prior he had rescued Bears sister Aspyn from a very unfortunate circumstance while Aspyn was just a pup. He begins to tell me Aspyns sister (who at the time was 14 1/2 years of age) was in need of a home as her owner was leaving town. Without a second thought (or a call to my landlord for that matter) responded that I would happily take her in. No sooner could I have responded as the retailer in the neighboring store came in to show us a photo on Facebook of a dog found on the side of a highway holding a chicken in her mouth. Yea, that girl was a survivor. She made sure she had a meal after being abandoned, escaping any potential trouble with the farmer whose bird she stole. It took John and I several phone calls to track down her location as she was taken from one place to another. It was a sweet relief when we figured out where she was and that we could go pick her up the next day after having a veterinarian examine her.
Bear was very anxious coming with us – after all her world had just been turned around at 14 1/2 years. I quickly realized my excitement needed to be adjusted and my navigational skills open to receive what she needed from me. The first week or so she asked for space while she discovered her new home and yard. Sounds of any nature (inside the home) would startle her disrupting any ease she may have been experiencing. She was afraid of water puddles and had little to no interest in other dogs and zero tolerance for other dogs near or in her space. I called her little mama at first, my intention to let her know I respected her and felt no need to make her anything but what she was meanwhile, encouraging a state of balance, trust, and safety. Bears conditioned behavior started to unfurl over the year and half we were together. She craved affection, she loved adventure, and she showed me myself in the truest reflection. Her and I shared a lot – we shared abandonment, we shared neglect, we shared the knowing of survival and eventually we shared the feeling of thriving. We nurtured each other. She gave me the gift of vision- vision to truly see we both got to the same place because of the same strong, willed heart. She loved me unconditionally and through her I learned to love myself the same way. She taught me just when you think you are loving at your fullest capacity – love has no capacity. Through trusting myself, my instinct, she too trusted me.
As I sit here reminiscing with eyes full of grateful tears, Palo Santo burning and Bears framed photos just beyond the computer screen my spirit is filled with all that she instilled in me. For those are the gifts of the best kind, the gifts of the infinite. I see her in every animal I meet. Happy Birthday Cosmic Bear!