Saying Good-bye To Bear

When Bethany Croyle lost her six and a half year old Great Dane, Bear, I sent her a private message on Facebook to let her know I cared. After she wrote me back, I asked if I could share her story with my readers. She agreed. Here’s Bethany’s story in her own words.

37353_1416418542388_2536506_nLast night was very difficult. Ben says that it takes a few weeks to learn new routines, and stop looking for them each time you come home. Let’s hope today is better than yesterday. I’m of the opinion that there’s one special animal that is significant above all the others in a person’s lifetime. For my sister, it was a Great Dane named Stubby. Bear is mine. I don’t know if I will ever get another dog. Right now I can’t comprehend it. But maybe someday there will be another.

He was and is an incredibly special dog.

My daughter, Evie, about seven at the time, is running with Bear at his favorite romp spot, the Bruneau sand dunes.
My daughter, Evie, about seven at the time, is running with Bear at his favorite romp spot, the Bruneau sand dunes.

I understand that connection that happens when they walk beside you through emotional hardship. He picked me at the least opportune time for me to have a dog- much less a Dane puppy. I’d just ended an abusive marriage and decided to move back to Idaho to be near family. So much easier to be a single parent with family around!

I rolled in to town, after five days on the road, and had been crying ever since the Idaho border. My sister met me in the driveway and pushed me in her car, saying “good! You’re here. Welcome home. Let’s go look at puppies!” Such a bizarre homecoming. I never even got in the house.

1918458_1173824997701_1295119_nBear picked me that day. I almost missed it. After playing with them all, we were loading the puppies in to the truck bed, and he crawled into my arms with his wise, worried eyes. I put him back with the herd. It was hours later that I thought of him again and said, “I’d name him Barron.” That was it. He picked me.

But I was technically a homeless, unemployed single parent. I felt like I was walking around with a scarlet A on my chest, labeling me as abused. I was a mess, and really had no business getting a dog. But he picked me, and I never had reason to regret it.

The service tag was for me. At that point, Bear was about five. I have severe Celiac disease, and when I am exposed to gluten I pass out. So he wore the tag when I traveled with him. That way he was there to guard me if I passed out. So he traveled in style, and I took him to restaurants, movie theaters, and hotels. He really was a beautifully mannered boy.
The service tag was for me. At that point, Bear was about five. I have severe Celiac disease, and when I am exposed to gluten I pass out. So he wore the tag when I traveled with him. That way he was there to guard me if I passed out. So he traveled in style, and I took him to restaurants, movie theaters, and hotels. He really was a beautifully mannered boy.

The next few years had exciting elements to them. I got the bookstore, found a tiny house to rent. However, they were dark emotional times for me. Bear was beside me every day. He went to work with me, slept with me, and was a constant source of comfort while I cried myself to sleep some nights.

 

 

 

20141117_150927When the vet was here, I was cuddling his face telling him how much I loved him, and thanking him for these years. But he held on until I told him I would be okay if he left me. Then I felt him go.

The support from everyone has been wonderful. It’s helped knowing that he was loved by so many, and that I’m not crazy for grieving like I am.

 

Bio:

Bethany Croyle always wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Deciding that dream was too far fetched, she chose to be a gemologist, gluten free baker, exceptional barista, and bookstore owner while raising her daughter. She’s now chasing her first love and writing fiction in a town where cows outnumber the people. The only things she misses about city life are sushi and designer shoes. Bethany found love again with an Air Force crew chief named Ben.

 

 

Herod’s Babies

Mary Elizabeth Todd was moved to write “Herod’s Babies” after learning that a woman everyone trusted in the animal rescue world was arrested for ill treatment and neglect.

Herod’s Babies

The stories I heard wretched my heart;

The pictures seared my mind, and

The faces of the survivors scarred my soul.

It is the pictures I see when I close my eyes

Of tiny kitten feet lying in the rooms,

Alone and how their mothers must have hurt for them.

 

I saw the eyes of the mothers who grieved their little ones.

The depth of their loss was so deep

I could not perceive.

I thought of a story I heard- some say it is not true,

These forlorn mother cats and their lost kittens

Reminded me of the baby boys that King Herod killed.

 

King Herod heard that a new king was born;

He could not have that happen.

He sent his men to make sure that it did not occur,

For if this king dies as a toddler or a baby.

He could never be crowned king,

But he forgot about the mothers.

 

Mothers can be fierce when their children

Are at risk. The soldiers did not expect this-

Women obeyed and did what they were told,

But these women fought because they were mothers.

We never hear when the story is told

Of how those mothers had fought.

 

Those mothers whose infant sons were ripped

From their arms, and killed before their eyes.

Mothers who died trying to guard

Their toddler sons from the slicing swords of men.

Men who grew sicker of their task,

And just wanted it to be done.

 

When it was done the soldiers rode from town

With images of mothers weeping over their tiny boys,

Of mothers lying dead beside their infant prince

For in a mother’s heart her son is always her prince.

They reported the job was done but in their heads

The images never went away.

 

It is the images of those kitten feet

And the eyes of their haunted mothers

That stay with me and make me wonder- what went on in that house?

 

Mary Elizabeth Todd

July 1, 2014

 

One of the saddest stories is about Big Boy. He was a big white cat from Greenville County Shelter. He was the staff’s favorite and was a big white hunk of love. The officers there at the house heard noises coming from the underneath the house, and they opened the crawlspace door.  Big Boy walked out and fell down. He died in route to the shelter.
One of the saddest stories is about Big Boy. He was a big white cat from Greenville County Shelter. He was the staff’s favorite and was a big white hunk of love. The officers there at the house heard noises coming from the underneath the house, and they opened the crawlspace door. Big Boy walked out and fell down. He died in route to the shelter.

Mary writes: “On June 19, 2014, the trust we had was shattered. Since she has not been convicted, she allegedly neglected the cats in her care and was arrested and charged with a felony act.  From her house 50 plus dead cats and kittens were removed and 32 were removed alive- four of which died since then. They were starved and had no water. Some were never even removed from the carriers when they were handed over to this woman. The others are now in rescue with various degrees of medical issues. 

I saw these Cats on June 26, 2014 at Anderson County P.A.W.S., the shelter that had them at that time. 

 

There was one mother cat whose eyes haunted me. 

I have seen pictures of her from the shelter. She was a protective mother and had lovely eyes. Now she was battle-scarred and losing one of those lovely eyes but the depth of her sorrow spoke volumes. She had no heart to live for. I believe it was broken.  She died over the weekend. 

Ash Truesdale compiled a massive photo album of these poor creatures rescued from shelters of their photos from the shelter.  There was close to 500 photos from at least 16 shelters over the southeast from approximately April 2013 until June 2014.  One friend had been to what most of us call the house of horrors and took pictures the Sunday after she was arrested with the landlord’s permission. The house and its lovely hardwood floors are ruined. 

It is what I saw in these pictures in almost every room (the deceased cats were removed by this time) that has haunted me: tiny kitten feet. 

Many of the rescued cats have medical issues, and the shelters are full. If anyone wants to help, please send me a private message on Facebook and I will get you information on how you can help.” ~ Mary Elizabeth Todd in Starr, SC.

http://www.examiner.com/article/prominent-anderson-county-animal-advocate-charged-with-ill-treatment-of-animals

Bio:

Mary Elizabeth Todd wrote her first poem when she was ten years old. Her father was also a poet, and she remembers growing up observing him composing and reciting his work. Her poem “Hiding Axes” was published in the Oberon Poetry Journal.  Mary is a retired foster care worker with the Anderson County Department of Social Services. She worked in that capacity for twenty-eight years. A 1974 graduate of Erskine College, she began doing cat rescue work in 2013. She lives in the woods in Starr, South Carolina.

Because Pets Don’t Get Obits…

How some families remember their furry members…

 9/3/13

Kathi Marrs taking Molly on her last "walk"
Kathi Marrs taking Molly on her last “walk”

They truly leave footprints on our soul when they leave their earthly bodies…we are forever changed by them…” Diane Lippard Tullia

Molly, a beautiful Golden Retriever, was just shy of thirteen when she was diagnosed with cancer. The Marrs family made the tough decision to have her right front leg amputated in the hopes of saving her. She made it through surgery, but then her kidneys shut down and she stopped eating. Before the family said their final farewell, they gave Molly a glorious send-off. They rolled her through the neighborhood on a special cart for her last walk, even stopping by a local church to pray.

Bob and Jason Marrs with Molly. The morning this photo was taken, several neighbors, joggers, walkers, babies, and dogs stopped by to say goodbye.
Bob and Jason Marrs with Molly. The morning this photo was taken, several neighbors, joggers, walkers, babies, and dogs stopped by to say goodbye.

 

Max's Remembrance Stone
Max’s Remembrance Stone

 

One of the best ways to remember a beloved pet is to seek out a creative outlet. After losing her black cat, Max, three years ago, my friend Barbara Castiglia, who writes a pet column for Family Magazine, found that using a kit to make a garden stepping-stone helped her mourn her best friend of nearly 20 years. She appreciates having a spot she can visit or view from a window when missing him. Also helpful was planting bulbs that return each year and provide a sense of the “circle of life.” Her husband, Paul, channeled his grief by composing a loving blog post tribute. Click here to read:

http://scaredsillybypaulcastiglia.blogspot.com/search?q=max

Max - He passed away just after midnight on Barbara's birthday.
Max passed away just after midnight on Barbara’s birthday.

“I think dogs/cats/pets are all extensions of the Holy Spirit, another way to let our Higher Power love us.”  Geri Krotow, novelist and animal lover

 

Tags from all the Tullia's beloved dogs who are waiting on the other side of the rainbow bridge.
Tags from all the Tullia’s beloved dogs who are waiting on the other side of the rainbow bridge.

 

“We carry both Wyatt and Sherwood’s collars in the RV. I keep all of the tags from all the dogs’ collars in a jar on the bookcase…this Christmas I am going to put all of the tags on one tree.  I also put up the stockings from every dog that we have had every Christmas.”

Diane Lippard Tullia

 

 

Marus, Patti's dogPatti Sweetin-Wolff remembers her special boy, Marcus. He passed away March 29, 2012.

He was eight.

“We have not painted over any of the toenail art that he had done on the wall while sleeping nor have we cleaned the artwork off of the windows either.  People may think that it looks dirty, but to us it is a loving reminder of our family’s companion that left us too soon in life.  We walk past his artwork everyday, and when we see it then we see him running throughout the house playing and enjoying his life to the fullest until he took his very last breath.  That artwork will remain in my house forever!”

 

Majestic & WildCanadian Author Murray Pura dedicated one of his latest books to his first two dogs who were brother and sister.

From “Magestic and Wild,” Baker Books 4/15/13:

“For Yukon 1986-2001 & Nahanni 1986-2002

We never grew tired of the thousands of trails

We never grew tired of each other.

We never grew tired of God and what he had made.

We were always glad of a life together

and a wilderness shared.”

 

We lost our beloved Chocolate Lab, Bubba, May 14, 2013. His sudden death was a shock to all of us. He was nine years old - the heartbeat of our home. His ashes and collar sit in a place of honor in my home office where he spent many a day listening to me read my work out loud.
We lost our beloved Chocolate Lab, Bubba, May 14, 2013. His sudden death was a shock to all of us. He was nine years old – the heartbeat of our home. His ashes and collar sit in a place of honor in my home office where he spent many a day listening to me read my work out loud.  Pictured to the right is our oldest son Thomas’ childhood drawing of Wolf, his Grandpa Rodgers’ German Shepherd.

“Daisy was my live-in friend through Vic’s illness and death, walking with me, staying close, easing my grief with her companionship. Until today, Daisy enjoyed her crunchies, got excited

Daisy’s gravestone and place where her ashes are buried in the woods.
Daisy’s gravestone and place where her ashes are buried in the woods

about visitors, and enjoyed sniffing around the front yard on warm days. Until yesterday, she got out the door with my help, but we’ve crossed the divide.” To read the rest of writer Elaine Mansfield’s essay about her Yellow Lab, Daisy, click here:

http://elainemansfield.com/2012/goodbye-my-miss-daisy/

…and sometimes our pets go missing and we never see them again.

Betka, missing from Denton, TX since June 24, 2013

Thomas Rodgers’ black cat, Betka, went missing weeks after our family dog passed away in May. Here’s Thomas’ plea for help on Facebook:  “Hi Animal lovers! My cat Betka has been missing for two

Betka (missing since June 24, 2013 from Denton, TX.
Betka, missing since June 24, 2013 from Denton, TX. Thomas and Brittany are still hoping she comes home.

days. She’s very friendly and will usually go up to any stranger. She has a clipped left ear, a cloudy left eye, and was wearing a red collar with a big gold bell on it. She’s microchipped and registered in Denton. Please keep an eye out for her! She’s one of our beloved kids! We will reward the person that finds her or has any information. She was last seen on Elm and Prairie.”

 

 

 

Bubba's bird guards the front garden, reminding us of the nine years Bubba blessed our lives.
Bubba’s bird guards the front garden, reminding us of the nine years Bubba blessed our lives.

To read more about her work, please visit her website: www.kathleenmrodgers.com