By Dennis Carlson
Those of you who read Whirled Peas in the Richmond News know that Darwin is our family cat. Darwin, my wife – the Lovely and Talented Mrs. C – and I live a mostly peaceful existence in rural Northwest Missouri.
Our lives have been punctuated by periods of happiness, sadness and poignancy. This weekend our lives were visited by all three in the form of a giant, black, slobbering furry mixed Labrador Retriever/Mastiff named Bear.
Bear was a “rescue dog” we got from a facility in Grain Valley. We hadn’t had a dog in some time since our dog Pongo had to be put down. That event tore our hearts apart. It was difficult to even consider another dog for years.
Over time we’ve realized that Darwin needs a four-legged friend for adventures and mischief-making. We also agreed that I need one for basically the same reasons. Enter the Bear.
My, that dog was big! He weighed 91 pounds and was expected to put on another 15.
He was quiet and gentle. He never jumped or pulled at the leash. He had an insatiable appetite for affection and loved ear scratches and belly rubs.
It is hard to explain in limited words what was happening. I was scared I was falling for this loveable giant.
He slept by our bed because he didn’t want to get in his kennel. He woke up growling in the middle of the night when he heard me snoring. My wife tried to wake me quietly. Soon my snoring settled down and so did he.
The next morning Darwin got frisky and tried to play with Bear’s tail. Another growl. Then, as Darwin passed in front of him, a snap and a lunge.
I caught him, but the message was clear. This wasn’t something I could train out of him in a weekend before going back to work. We made the sad decision to take him back.
There was already a family waiting for him. The rescue staff understood our reasons for bringing him back. Sometimes you have to make decisions you don’t want to.
Second guesses had us wondering what it would have been like if we only had more time. Tears filled our eyes as we walked out.
We’ll miss you, Bear. Thanks for the visit.
If you’d like to write Dennis, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org