Letter from the Editor – Stories from the Bear Chair
He was a Blue Light Special, marked down seventy-five percent after spending four months of his puppyhood in a glass cage at a pet store. When he looked at me with his little brown Schipperke eyes, my heart told me to take him home. My son and I had just been through our first holiday season since my husband had passed away, so we were happy to have an energetic, curious little puppy enter our lives. What we didn’t know was that we had taken on quite a challenging, ferocious little creature who we wanted to strangle many times, if we could only catch him!
It would have helped if I had done any research on this breed. Schipperkes are a small Belgian dog that originated in the early 16th century. They are agile, high spirited, faithful, confident, fearless, and independent. “Independent” is the operative word, meaning they do not mind, at all. They are a handsome breed with their thick black, double coated fur, fox-like face, and docked tail. We named him Bear, but soon he became known as “Demon Dog.”
Where do I begin to tell you some of the many stories about Bear? He was so wild. He would escape at any chance if someone opened a door. In the mornings when I would go to get the paper, he would zoom past me, running around in the front yard while tossing my bra up in the air! Once I opened the refrigerator and he jumped up, grabbed a wrapped steak, and tore through the house with me screaming and chasing him. One night, I left Bear in the dog pen and my poor Korean neighbors left many late night messages on my answering machine, “Your dog, he bark. He bark all night!”
My friends were not enamored with the Tasmanian Devil who was a sneaky biter. He would run around and bite guys on the ankles, but jump up and nip my girlfriends on their butts. You can imagine that he was not a poplar pet. I tried taking him to obedience school, but he was not interested in being obedient. Basically, he was a “Doggie School Dropout.”
At the time we lived on a small lake in West Rome with a fenced-in back yard and Bear would regularly swim around the fence to escape. During one of his many adventures, he got lost. I posted a reward sign at Kroger and a boy called to say he’d seen my dog. I went searching and asked a woman if she’d seen him. “Yes! That crazy dog terrorized the neighborhood, chasing kids, eating our animals’ food, and we could not catch him!” I found him much to the delight of that community.
After numerous warnings from Animal Control, I drove Bear to a Schipperke Rescue on the other side of the Atlanta airport. I cried so hard that night. But the next morning I got a call saying that Bear was not welcome at the rescue after biting the owner. With no other options, I considered putting him down, but my mom said she and my dad would adopt him, much to my dad’s dismay. Bear became my mom’s dog (in name only). Early on, Bear’s life nearly ended when he jumped up and stole a PB & J sandwich from my dad. His dogs had always been well behaved and Bear was just hell on wheels.
My folks eventually grew very fond of Bear and learned that he would always come back after escaping. Like most dogs, he loved riding in cars, shotgun on the Bear Chair (the middle console). He loved cheese, raw green beans, and on Friday nights, he got his favorite treat, pizza bones. He loved my parents, especially my dad. He never forgot me either, always happy to see me, wagging his nub tail when I came by.
Bear died a few weeks ago at the ripe old age of fourteen and a half. Just a few days prior, he had been running around with pizza bones, living life large. He might have been a Demon Dog to everyone else, but I will always love him and laugh about the crazy Bear stories we shared.