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.

 

 

Bubba’s Last Walk

Bubba's last walk. 5/13/13
Bubba’s last walk. 5/13/13

The night before Bubba died, he trotted into my office and sat at my feet. The look on his face said it all: “Take me for a walk, please.”

I closed my computer and rubbed the top of his head. “Are you sure you feel up to it?  You’ve been lethargic all day.”Our sweet Bubba 5:14:13

After he wagged his tail “yes” we were out the door. No sooner had we crossed the street when something told me to get out my phone camera and capture this moment. I sent the photo in a text message to both of our sons. Looking back, I realize I was trying to reassure them that Bubba was okay. He was out for his walk which meant everything was fine, right?

The next morning Bubba collapsed on the living room floor after going out with Tom to get the newspaper. We didn’t hesitate. We loaded him into our Suburban and rushed him to Dr. Wied’s office.  On the way there, I sent the boys the following text: “Bubba is in distress. Dad and I are taking him to the vet.  We are doing everything we can to help him.”

Bubba died on the table, surrounded by Dr. Wied and his staff. They loved Bubba, too, and they did everything they could to save him. He was nine years old and the heartbeat of our home.

My youngest son's Facebook post the day Bubba died.
My youngest son’s Facebook post the day Bubba died.

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Kathleen and Bubba Dog.
Kathleen and Bubba Dog. His final gift to us? We asked him to lead us to a doggie that needed a good home. He led us to Denton the Wonder Dog. To read more about Denton, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Little Girls Come To Play

Two weeks after the death of my dog and dad, my friend Paula called to ask if I could watch her four-year-old daughter, Kaili, while she attended a meeting. I hesitated, almost said, “No, I can’t possibly put on a happy face and entertain a young child for a couple of hours. I’m still so sad.” Then Paula said, “I can take her with me to the meeting if you can’t watch her, but Kaili specifically asked if she could ‘come play with Mrs. Rodgers.'”

Play. With Mrs. Rodgers. How could I possibly say no to that?

Within minutes after Kaili’s arrival, we were both caught up in the little-girl world of  imagination. We giggled, ate frozen yogurt princess style – tiara and all – and danced around the house, singing and making up tunes of our own. It’s the first time I’d danced in days. Then Kaili asked, “Do you have any toys?” And my first thought was, “Yes, Bubba’s doggie toys.” Then I realized she meant toys left over from my sons’ childhoods. Oh boy, did I ever.

Up the stairs we went to the playroom, Bubba’s old hangout once the kids were grown. I opened the closet door, shut for years, and stared into the faces of my boys’ childhood friends. Ninja Turtles, Gargoyle action figures, and a squad of GI Joes grinned back. Surely my little dancing partner, who loves to play dress-up, would go for the Teenage Turtles over some tough looking dudes in uniform. Nope, she plucked up the soldiers and went to work, arranging them in groups on the couch. Fascinated, I took out my phone and snapped this photo to share with my grown sons.

By the time Kaili’s mother came to pick her up two hours later, I had a smile on my face and joy in my heart.  And some tough looking guys in uniform, hanging out on my couch, sweet-talking me into letting them stay awhile.

When Little Girls come to play

 

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