There is someone very special in my life, who I’m missing a lot these days. When he first came into my life, I wasn’t sold on the idea of a relationship with him. He was a lot of work, messy and required a lot of attention. All of these things considered, we fell totally in love and have been through so much together. He was there when I moved into my house and eased my fears of a single girl living alone. He helped me train for the marathon last year giving me “that look” whenever I didn’t feel like running. Soon after, I’d find myself following him out the door and behind him for the rest of our run. Everyday, when I came home, it was like he hadn’t seen me in months. After he stopped screaming with excitement, he’d shower me with kisses. Our relationship is not perfect. Sometimes his endless energy and neurotic behavior gets on my nerves. There are days I want to just relax on the couch and he just doesn’t seem to understand. Other times I want to do things without him and it just about breaks his heart.
His name is Bear and he’s a German Shepherd who I’ve had for a little over 4 years. Let me play proud mother for a moment. There are a few words you can’t say when he is present because he will explode with excitement. Squirrel, vacation (meaning camping), mama, school, walk and the most impactful…ball. To say he loves to play ball is an understatement. If you’ve been to my house, he most definitely has tried to sucker you into a throw or two (or a thousand) by nicely placing the sometimes spit soaked tennis ball on your lap. I have never once seen him refuse a game of fetch. He also loves walks and runs. Everyday when he sees you go for the leash, he screams and jumps with excitement. Another thing he throughly enjoys is going to Doggie Daycare (aka school). Go ahead and call me pretentious, but it’s the perfect way to get his energy out, keep him socialized with other dogs and not feel guilty because he’s home all day in his crate. He even has a girlfriend, another German Shepherd, named Abbey. They play soccer together but I’m told that she’s the one who wears the pants in the relationship. I’m proud because I raised him to respect women and do what it takes to make them happy. Which leads me to the next reason that he’s so awesome. He listens to me, does what I say and knows that I’m the boss. I don’t even need to say anything, I just need to give a look and it’s understood that I’m not happy about what he’s doing. So, he usually just goes and punishes himself. If I give him the silent treatment coupled with not looking at him, he’s efforts to earn my forgiveness are relentless. I always know when he’s done something bad because I’ll come in the house and he’s nowhere to be found. Usually, he’s upstairs hiding under the bed. Yes people, my German Shepherd can be a sissy. And this was never more the case since I got roommates. With 2 other girls, came 2 additional cats (I already had one). You would’ve thought Bear would be at the top of the food chain. Nope, at the bottom. It’s not unusual to see him hauling ass down the hallway followed by a cat or two who are irritated with him because he’s woken them up, tried to eat their food or simply existed. I made him look in the mirror once and then told him “You’re a German Shepherd and you don’t have to take this.” He’s a lover, not a fighter.
Now that I’ve made all the non-animal people sick or simply stop reading, I’ll wrap it up. Since I’ve been in China, my roommates and best friends, Lara and Liz, have become his surrogate mothers. I am so incredibly grateful for them and for my mom who have been taking good care of him. I love Bear and miss him more than I could even begin to express. For the first few months in China I would find myself sad and then realize it was because I missed him. I know he’s just a dog but he has also been a strong constant in the happiest years of my life. He ALWAYS wants to be with me and there is NEVER any question about his feelings. He is the perfect example of unconditional love.
Happy 5th Birthday Beary!