See you up the road, T-Bear



That’s our dog Teddy in a photo taken in 2010 during a big Lake Tahoe snowstorm. My partner Julie and I quite unexpectedly lost Teddy this morning when on his morning walk he laid down and never got up. It was heartbreaking in every sense of the word. 

If you will indulge me, a few words about Teddy -- or T-Bear, the name he preferred, believing that it gave him more street cred with the various hounds, hydrants and humanoids we met during our many travels. 

We first met Teddy in late 2008 when we were shopping around for a second rescue dog to keep our first rescue dog company while we slaved away at work. While T-Bear’s back story is a little muddy, we know this: He was possibly living in a mobile home in some creepy corner of the Central Coast when his owner got sent up the river for some unknown offense. 

T-Bear was subsequently imprisoned in the San Luis Obispo County animal shelter, only to be saved by a lab rescue group that dispatched him to a foster home in Summerland. That’s where we caught up with him and decided to bring him home, with his foster mom claiming, “he never barks like this usually.” 

She was correct. He usually barked longer, harder and louder. He could swim but had no idea what stairs were -- or how to use them. After spending much of his life outside, he was also quick to claim all furniture as his own and quickly and efficiently evicted me from my favorite food-stained, once-red couch in the den. 

In perhaps his neatest trick, each autumn he would let himself into the backyard and headbutt the crabapple tree until apples began falling. Our other dog thought the crabapples “tasted like shit,” but Teddy treated them as a seasonal delicacy that would enhance his already legendary ability to clear a room with a single artisan-crafted fart. 

Like Snoopy’s brother, Spike, T-Bear was the teller of tall tales, quite often of the adult variety. While pounding beers and watching hockey and Cinemax late at night, he liked to boast of the time he got a “hummer” from a shih tzu in the pound. He also claimed to have partied with Graham Parsons in Joshua Tree and to have once won a demolition derby in Arkansas. Technically speaking, I can’t disprove any of this. 

Teddy lived on the edge of glory. In the little more than four years that we owned him, he required surgery to remove a baseball-size pile of sandwich wrap from his belly, another surgery to remove an eye gone bad and yet another surgery to fix a collapsing windpipe. There were also a variety of other, smaller procedures that enriched a fleet of vets throughout the San Gabriel Valley. 


Next time you see a vet driving a luxury car, tell them T-Bear says hi and the front desk staff sucks ass, as they do at most vet offices. 

The vet told us the throat surgery would stop him from barking. She was a great vet and she was wrong. In time, and with much practice, the bark came most of the way back, letting us know whenever T-Bear wanted a walk, a meal, a double-reverse ear scratch or another treat inserted into his beloved, spit-and-dog-fur-covered Kong toy. 

If you have made it all the way through this, thank you for taking the time. Julie and I are among those known as “crazy dog people” who strive to treat our dogs better than children and, to be brutally honest, don’t really believe they’re “dogs.” We just work on the principle that they’re some type of higher being that we’re lucky to spend some time with and that vet bills and other annoyances are among minor concerns in the big, vast universe. 

One other favor: if you or anyone else you know is looking for a dog, please consider a rescue dog. We used Fetching Companions Retriever Rescue, a group that like many others could use all the support they can get. 

Thanks, 

Steve


2 comments:

  1. Steve, this is beautifully written (even the fart part was artful in its way). Seriously: I am glad you shared this and am so sorry your buddy is gone. It was in fact heart-breaking the way you described it. Be well, all of you.

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  2. So sorry, Hymo. Stephen is the true dog-guy in the family. We had to put down our rescue 1.5 years ago (he'd been with us about 3 years) after he bit Stephen in the face requiring over 40 stitches. Stephen was so heartbroken but he was just a bit too unpredictable (he bit our oldest son in the face as well a year before). We feel your loss. T-Bear sounds like a great dog and you and Julie brought him 5 years of great love and care. Hang in there. Your pics are beautiful, btw. He has a regal face.

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