The first dog I ever had as a kid was a black mutt named Buster. I honestly couldn’t tell you how old I was when I got him or how long we had him. I do remember having him when we lived in Miltonvale the first time around. That was before Kindergarten. It was around the time we moved from there to the next town we had to give that dog to my uncle Walt. I was heartbroken he wasn’t going to be *my* dog anymore.
After Buster I didn’t get another dog that was my own until I was 11. His name was originally Cookie but I changed it to Pete, after the neighbor on Goof Troop. I didn’t have him for very long before I ended up giving him to a girl up the street that needed him more than I did. He was part Poodle but not a very big dog.
Aside from family dogs my sisters and I all shared, or little lap dogs my mom became attached to over the years, I wouldn’t get another dog of my own until I was 16. In fact he was a birthday present for me. It was a memorable birthday in 1999 so I may tell that story one of these days. It was a day that almost didn’t happen.
I remember when my parents brought Bear into my life. He was already about five or six years old so I kept the name he came with. Renaming a dog can be tricky after all.
Bear was a little black mutt that reminded me of Buster so much I almost felt it was him reincarnated. He used to run back around the yard and I would chase him. Then he would chase me after I caught him. Once he caught me he would lick my face until I fell to the ground. This was easily the first living thing that wasn’t blood I truly felt love in my heart towards.
My parents knew how important Bear was to me. They went out of their way to ensure we always had a place that would let us keep him. We had to give away the family dog for a move once and it broke my moms, and us kids hearts, to the point mom swore never again. She meant it too.
Bear was the cutest dog. He used to wave his whole butt with his tail when he got excited. He was a very passive dog. He never barked or growled at the neighbor kids. He did sometimes yell at me if I forgot to put food in his dish, but beyond that he was fairly well behaved. Sure he liked to run so much we had to keep a close eye on him or else he would dart off, but he stayed a big part of my life for a very long time. He was small enough he could sleep in my bed at my feet. But he was also large enough he was technically an outside dog.
Bear remained a part of my life through several milestones. He was there when I learned how to drive. When I got my first job. He was waiting for me when I returned home after that summer my sister and I ran away. He was there when I went through my Carmen ordeal. He was there when I struggled to get my recording studio off the ground. He was even there through that time I almost signed up for the military because life was dragging me down.
I dragged that faithful, loyal “best friend” from Southern Idaho to Northern Nevada, back and forth between Idaho, Nevada and Kansas so may times he couldn’t possibly know where he was half the time. When we drove to Kansas from Twin Falls, Idaho, he rode in the front seat of my car the whole trip. I cried into my pillow deeply the day my parents moved back to Nevada, leaving me and my baby sister to fend for ourselves in our apartment we had together. Fortunately I sucked badly enough at life once my record studio crashed and burned, I lost my job and needed to return home he was waiting at my parents house when I arrived back home. He licked my face as he reminded me it was going to be okay.
I always told Bear I wanted him to live just long enough for me to get married. He waited trough Rose. He watched me suffering after Carmen. He even cheered me up after I swore off girls during what became a 11-year dry spell. Sadly he passed away in 2008.
It was the summer. I had moved up to Northern Idaho to live with my older sister, Stacy. I was trying to start my life over after another job loss. I came back home after only a couple weeks to discover he had passed on while I was gone.
Like a lot of people do when they lose a pet I didn’t mourn Bear long enough. I was so distraught over his passing I replaced him immediately with another, very similarly sized black dog. It wasn’t the same. Sure that dog was soft, cuddly and also slept in my bed, but I had her one summer and then had to give her away because of a move I chose to make this time. I didn’t even have that dog long enough to remember her name.
That was the last dog I ever owned. My heart knew I couldn’t replace Bear and I was a fool for trying. After that I swore never again. No more dogs. Bear meant too much to me. He was there through too many of the defining moments in my life. I owe it to his memory to remain faithful to that never again. It’s not that I am a cat person because I hate dogs. It’s because my heart can’t take going through that ever again. That doesn’t mean I love my cat Buddy any less. I just to this day I have dreams about Bear returning from the grave to give me one last hug.