Several years ago, Emmitt was given a dog. This time I put my foot down — “This dog is not going to be a house dog,” I said. Chalk up one for me for the only case I won.
Winter came and although it brought mild temperatures Emmitt thought Bear might be cold, so periodically he let Bear in to get warm. Bear’s hyperactive nature took over big time. Running here and there and knocking things around didn’t make me too happy.
To keep the peace Emmitt picked him up one day and rocked him in the rocking chair. This became a daily ritual. Did you ever hear of that? A grown man rocking a dog? Bear soon learned a trick in the middle of the night.
“Wooo-ooo-ooo-ooo!” (He wanted to be rocked.)
The vet gave me a dog tranquilizer to put in his meat, but the next morning poor Bear had really hung one on, so I didn’t do that anymore.
The howling was bad enough but as Bear grew, things in our backyard began to disintegrate. First, my beautiful flowering plum tree came down. He chewed the trunk right in two. Then he dug ugly holes everywhere and scattered firewood from the woodpile all over the yard.
“Look at that yard,” I complained.
“But he’s such a good dog,” Emmitt lifted him up, patting him defensively.
I secretly found out that Bear had chewed up all the wiring on Emmitt’s horse trailer. He hadn’t told me. It would have added more fuel to my ammunition.
I really exploded one day when I discovered Bear had chewed up all the satellite wiring to our television set.
Leaving for church one day, we noticed Bear had the volleyball in his mouth.
“What a fun dog you are,” Emmitt said, patting his head. “Go ahead and play!”
We returned from church to find Bear still standing at the back door with his teeth stuck tight in the volleyball.
In spite of my aggravation, Bear’s sweet disposition won my heart too. I watched Bear and Emmitt grow even closer as Bear stayed right by his side.
Bear began to have severe ear infections. After months of surgery and medications, Bear died anyway.
Emmitt’s pain remained for several weeks. His missed Bear so much, and as much as I did not want another dog, I prayed: “Lord, thank you for the gift of animals. And you know Emmitt has a tender spot for them, so could you send another dog… a grown healthy dog that won’t tear up, and one that’s colored like Bear?”
I could not believe my eyes later that afternoon. Emmitt walked into the house grinning.
“Where have you been?” I noticed a twinkle in his eye. “Come see,” I have a Valentine for you,” he said, leading me to the backyard.
“My Valentine” was brown and black and looked like Bear’s brother.
I’m thankful for the lesson Bear and Emmitt taught me. When it comes to love, it’s not a time to be practical. As long as there is life, love is precious.
Portales resident Joan Clayton is a retired teacher and published author. Her e-mail address is: