by Jim

Chapter One:

In 1982 I bought a house. It was a small house on a huge lot. It took every dime I had. When I moved in I had a t.v. and a bed. No chairs, no kitchen table, no lamps. No nothing.  I would sit on the floor in the living room and watch t.v.  The house came with a frig and a stove.

I was very happy I had my own house. The back yard had a pool in it at one time. But it had been filled in and a concreted slab poured over it which left me with a huge patio.

I was in the house for a few days when I heard the people next door talking. I went to the fence and told them who I was. They told me they were so happy because their mama dog just had a huge litter of pups. They called one of the puppies a “runt” because he had something wrong with his hind leg and he didn’t nurse with the rest of the pups. One lady said she could mix up some formula and bottle feed the dog. She said she could mix evaporated milk and honey and some other product that I can’t remember. She said it would be just like mama’s milk.

I would look over the fence every few days. They were so cute and so little and so pure white.

Then the day came, the lady said “it’s time to sell the pups”. I asked about the “runt” She said she was getting $50.00 for the puppies but didn’t know what to do with him. At the time I couldn’t buy a chair or a used table so how could I buy a dog? I’d watch a series on channel 6 all about polar bears. They were cute when they were little and they were white.

One by one the pups left. But the “runt” was still there. One day the lady said she would sell him for $20.00 just to cover the food.

Now what? A used kitchen table or a white dog with a bum leg. Welcome home “Bear”

Chapter Two:

“Bear” and I got to be buddies real quick. I had him in the house with me, I was sitting on the floor and Bear was sniffing all along the base boards. He went in my sons room and then in my room. Most of the time I could hear him, but all of a sudden it was all quiet. Without thinking I said loudly “Bear”. He came running. He looked like a big cotton ball and had a spider web on his nose. I cleaned his nose and he went back to sniffing the floors. I had only called him Bear a few times but he seemed to know his name.

I locked the doors and walked down to the lady’s house that had the kitchen table for sale. I told her I had bought a dog and I would get the table and chairs on Friday when I got paid. She said that was funny that I had bought a dog instead of a kitchen table. She told me to take the table and chairs and pay her later. She was still laughing.

I got back to the house and opened the door. Bear was sitting there like he had completed his inspection. I let him out and I took the car to get the table. As I looked back he was sniffing the back yard. One more inspection I guess.

The next day my Dad came over and bought two t-bone steaks and all the stuff to make a salad. He had lettuce, tomato, radish, onions, green pepper, and cucumber, and salad dressing. He went out to see Bear and I made lunch. We had a great time together. Just playing around, I put a bowl of salad outside. Bear loved it, except for the lettuce. As time went by, I learned Bear would eat anything, but not lettuce.

Chapter Three:

One evening as I was driving home from work, I thought I’d better go get Bear some dog food. Good thing, I only got two cans. He took a big bite out of his dog bowl and looked at me like “What is this?” I told him “He couldn’t have steak and salad every night”. The next night I got him some alpo. He liked that a little better. I got a poor man’s do g with a rich man’s taste.

The time came to take him to the doggy doctor. He needed shots to get his license. I had the vet check him out. “Doctor Dave” (as I called him) said Bear was in perfect shape. He asked me what he ate . I told him just about anything. But no lettuce. He said “Bear” was doing very good and he thought he would out grow the limp.. He said nothing was wrong with the leg. That was good news. Then he said “Does he make any noise?” “No, but he thinks a lot” I told him.  “He sat in your waiting room, looked at the other dogs, never said a word”.  Doc said “strange”

Chapter Four:

My son came over every other weekend. He was 8 years old and loved to play with Bear. One day he came in the house “dad you got to see this” I went out with him. “Look, Bear smiles”. He did look like he had a grin on his face. If I yelled at him for digging or tearing something up in the back yard, he would sit and look down like he was sad. I told my son what the vet said. “Strange”.

After about two years my son and I made a big veggie garden. We put a wire fence around it to keep Bear out of it. We had corn, green beans, zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes, and lots of cherry tomatoes. Most of the cherries hung on the fence. Bear would stand on his hind legs and put his front legs on the wire and eat the tomatoes.

One day we had company and the people were looking at our garden. Someone said “what happened to these vines? Birds?” “No”, I said “Bear”. I pointed to him and he was sitting there with that silly grin on his face.

Chapter Five:

It took me a year or better to get furniture and a rug. I bought my son a water bed for his room. He was happy. My father bought me a rug and a couch. I was on my way. After awhile, I got a lamp and a chair. All this time Bear had the whole back yard to play in. Everything was going well when my son called and said the teacher had told the class that they could not have Charlie the turtle in the room anymore.

“Oh Dad please, I’ll take care of him. He’s a box turtle. He stays in a box most of the time. Please Please”. What the heck, the more the merrier. A lady came by a few days later with the box and Charlie the turtle. She told me what she knew about turtles. The next day I took him down to “Doctor Dave”. He said “Well, he is a he”. But he is dehydrated, his eyes are cloudy, he has been eating the wrong food”.  He said “get fruit cocktail and drain the can of all the syrup, fill the can with water and drain again. Do this until the water runs clear”.

What a great life! I have a dog that loves salad and a turtle that eats fruit cocktail.

Chapter Six:

Every night after work I look in on “Charlie”. It didn’t seem right having to live in a box. So one night I brought home a large box with one end cut out. I put fresh newspapers in it, clean water and “fruit cocktail”.  Charlie was happy . He tore the paper up, drank water, picked out the fruit he liked and ate them (grapes and cherries)

The night my son was coming over I went in to see how Charlie was doing. Gone! What? Where could a turtle go? When my son came over I told him Charlie was on the run. We laughed and looked all over the house. No Charlie. The next day continued our hunt for Charlie. Finally I said “I’m going to let Bear in. They have met once so it should be alright. My son wasn’t sure of that.

Bear started sniffing right away like before. He went room to room. I was in the kitchen when I heard something and then “Dad, did you hear that?” The first time in three years, Bear said “woof”. He was almost flat on the floor, looking under the couch. It was very low and very dark. I looked at Bear and he said “woof”, so low I could hardly hear him. I got a broom handle and moved it back and forth under the couch-out came Charlie, dust and all.  I looked around for Bear and he was standing by the back door ready to go back to his world.  He knew he was a hero!

Chapter Seven:

Bear really loved  HIS yard. He chased birds and sometimes a cat. He would run after the ball, but didn’t show much interest. After about four years Bear decided to change his yard.

I came home from work one night and Bear had dug a hole by the back door. I filled it in and we had a talk about that. That didn’t work. The next day another hole. I went to the pet store and they sold me some powder. I put that on the back yard. Bear loved it. Dug right through it.

I told Doctor Dave and he told me what to get. Bear liked that too. My backyard was starting to look like a bomb range.

The next night I came home late and very tired. It had been a very busy day all day long. There was a foxhole in my backyard. It had enough room for 2 or 3 men. I was so tired and so mad, I took Bear and put him in the hole and started to cover him with dirt. That brown dirt on his white fur sure looked strange, but I kept going. Bear looked at me with those sad eyes. And I said “Not this time Bear”

After awhile the only thing sticking out was his head and his tail. I just looked at him and stopped. I don’t know who was more scared, me or him. I took him out of the hole and he shook most of the dirt off.

The next day I took Bear to the vets to have a bath. When I picked him up he looked so nice, even had a bow on his head. He didn’t think much of that.  Bear and I went home “buddies” again. Bear never dug another hole!

Chapter Eight:

I was standing by the counter, one eye on the clock and one eye on the storm. Those black clouds were coming in fast and I had an hour to work.

Bear had been through storms before but this one bothered me. It was the longest hour I’d ever put in. Finally I got to go home. It was almost dark from the clouds.  Lots of lightning and thunder. After I got in the house I looked outside. There he was running around. Happy as could be.  I made him a bed on the porch, but I didn’t think he would use it. After awhile the rain came. It rained so hard I couldn’t see the back fence. The only time I could see Bear was when the lightning would flash. I’d see a white blob under the tree.

The rain lasted about an hour or so. Bear must have been soaked but he wouldn’t come in. We lived close to the golf course so as I got ready for bed, I could hear the croaking of the frogs. I dozed off listening to the song of the frogs. About midnight a noise woke me up. I went to the back door and there stood Bear soaked, with a strange look on his face. I got some towels to dry him off. I couldn’t tell if his mouth was swelling up or if he had something in his mouth. I kind of yelled at him and tapped his nose.  He spit out a frog. “Oh no, they are poison to a dog”. I  got a paper towel and picked up the frog. He was alive. I guess Bear was nice to him.

The next morning I took him to Dr Dave. He looked at Bear “What did you do?”  The Doc said “if he didn’t eat the frog, he will be alright”. He gave him a shot and told me “Bear must take two pills a day. If he doesn’t take the pills, you will have to bring him in for a shot or two or three.” The first day I put the pills in his dog food. Not going to fool this dog. Everything I gave him came out, pills and all. The second day another shot. The third day I went to the store. Tomato, radish, onion, bell pepper, cucumber and mayo. Bear loved his salad, pills and all.

Chapter Nine:

I finally got a day off. We had been so busy this week. Most days I get out of bed at 5 in the morning. But today, it was 7. I looked out the window. Bear had his back to me looking at the fence. I lay down and dozed off until 9:00 am.  I looked at Bear and he was still looking at the fence. I got dressed and went out. Bear was so happy to see me. He wagged his tail and his whole body shook. I couldn’t hold on to him. He would run to the fence and back to me, as if to say “Come on, look” As I walked, I just hoped it wasn’t a frog. Nope, it was a big spider web. Complete with a spider and a wrapped up insect, lunch I guess. I wondered what the spider thought as a big white fluffy dog looked at him.

As I walked back to the house I thought of that old saying “Curiosity killed the cat” I hope that is not for dogs too. I tried to spend the rest of the day in the house. But I looked at Charlie and he didn’t seem to have much of a life. So, I took him out to the back yard. I set him down on the concrete and he made a “run” for the grass. It was funny to watch a turtle try to go fast. Bear has his head cocked over to one side. Like “what the heck”. Charlie nibbled on the grass but he liked fruit cocktail better.  Bear came over and sniffed Charlie and went back to the shade. After all, it was nap time!

Chapter Ten:

Bear’s leash hung on the wall for years and years. One weekend I decided to take him for a walk. It was his first time out in the “Real World”. I hooked him up and out the gate we went. He walked with me real good. He pulled a little bit, but most of the time he stayed close to me.

About two blocks from the house, I heard a woman say, “Oh, that’s the dog that almost cost me a sale of a kitchen table.” We laughed and shook hands. She brought Bear a bowl of water and patted his head. We talked for a while, but Bear wanted to go, so I thanked the lady and walked down the street. After another block Bear was finished. I said, “You can’t quit now. It’s a block or two to the playground.” He looked at me as if to say, “You got to be kidding.” Bear sat down on the curb to rest when he spotted a man mowing his grass with a push mower. He had to see that. I let go of the leash and he took off.

It was funny, because a few minutes before he was tired. The grass was wet from the morning dew, and the man was using an old mower. Bear looked at the mower and sniffed the grass. When he came back to the street, he was white and green. As I was brushing him off the man said, “That’s a crazy dog.” I said, “You don’t know the half of it.” We laughed.

I picked Bear up and took him home. When I got to the front yard, I put him down. He had to check out the flowers. I had looked away for a second and Bear started sneezing. When I looked back, his nose was covered in yellow pollen. I took out my handkerchief and dusted off his nose. I took him to the back yard. He was so happy. He checked out the tree. He looked at the old spider web, sniffed the garden, and looked all around. He was thinking, “This is MY world.”

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