It’s strange the way a creature can work their way into your heart to a depth you hardly even knew was there. It feels as though I’ve blinked and turned to find my dear friend has aged overnight, leaving me feeling helpless to turn back time.
Bear hasn’t just been my dog. He’s been a constant, through the most beautiful and darkest days of my life. He never failed to come up beside me, lean his face into mine and let me cry into his fur until there were no more tears left inside. Then he’d turn and do a little twist and grin the way he does, just waiting for me to laugh, because he knew he had enough charm to do it.
He walked me down the aisle and gave me away, knowing he had carried me as far as he needed to and that I was safe now.
When we walk, he reminds me every day that it’s not about getting from here to there, but enjoying the journey. It’s about smelling the green grass on the side of the road and noticing the beauty and intelligence all around, not rushing by it. He reminds me to stop and look, to be curious about everything, and that life is for living, not getting through to the weekend.
He reminds me that nothing on my phone is ever as important as what is in front of me. He does this in a not-so-subtle way, usually by placing his entire face on top of the screen and pushing down, which effectively renders my phone useless in the moment. Mission accomplished.
And he teaches me to love like there is no tomorrow. Never does he miss out on an opportunity to be part of every human greeting that occurs, trotting over and squeezing himself between mike and I when he hugs me, or making himself known to every stranger we walk by. Unless he senses ill intent, he is their friend. Immediately. Even if they don’t want him to be.
I have been up with my precious kiddo since 4am this morning. His hips are now ridden with arthritis and he wakes me up to tell me he’s in pain, imploring me to sit with him. I rub his aching back and legs until I can’t stay awake any longer, and we both fall asleep hoping for another day together with less pain. Its the least I can do, and it breaks my heart that I cannot save him.
This week he starts physical therapy at a brand new vet rehab facility in our area, which I’m hopeful about. Water therapy, underwater treadmills, exercises, laser treatment, and body massages. Our goal is that we will build up his muscle in combination with pain medication he’s on, ideally reducing inflammation, pain and strain on his body overall. The team there is excited to work with him, they say he’ll be their biggest guy yet in the program.
Until he lets me know he’s ready to rest, I’ll never stop fighting for my boy. Because, when all is said and done, he never stopped fighting for me.