Bear bait and I had some seriously good times together. What ever day it was she was always bringing the excitement. Some times that will go down in history and forever be stories in my arsenal are the crazier times. While we had many many long walking adventures the times that really stand out are the the ones we got to laugh about afterwards.
How bear bait, with her enthusiasm and affection, terrorized the three dog fearing boys who lived on our street until the evening I, through my tears of shame, called and ordered an electric fence for our yard.
My neighbors remind me of how when bear bait was young she'd bite the ankles of anyone visiting, from the neighbor's kids to the UPS guy, trying to drag them back to the house when they attempted to leave.
I'll remember preparing steak every week on the night before puppy training class so I could bring left overs to puppy training class and desperately try to get bear bait's attention when all she was doing was whining and shaking because one day a train had gone past and frightened her while we were entering the puppy training school.
I'll always laugh about the day we thought bear bait had left our lake property and were searching and calling for her, joined by the concerned sentry who had heard the distress, when we thought to look to look in the truck, and there she was snoozing away on the back seat.
How bear bait, a retriever, was terrified if water the first two summers she spent on the lake and how by the time the third summer rolled around she would paddle around after me as I kayaked in circles around the cove trying to give my little energizer bunny of a dog enough exercise to finally wear her out.
And then there were the hours and hours we spent walking in circles on the fields behind the stepford high school, under the power lines, or through the streets with Peanut and her pooch, bear bait's bestie. Ofcourse, we were desperately trying to wear our young dogs out so we could have a more peaceful day. Peanut and I would laugh that drivers would see us romping through the rain, cold or wind and marvel at what dedicated dog owners we were when really we liked to gab with each other so much and this way of doing it was multitasking. I'm not sure when walking the dog evolved into simple joy time spent with the dog, but it did.
And then bear bait started listening to me, so I could walk with her unleashed and we'd get up before dawn and walk for hours, me with my camera and bear bait running circles around me just so happy to be out and free.
Then there was that one evening bear bait brought the newly born baby bunny into the house. She set us up for two weeks of amazement and wonder as we first found the bunny nest and then protected it from her, as she seemed to have a penchant for removing the bunnies from their nest, and scattering them all over the yard, and the kids and I observed as the little hairless helpless bunnies grew into adorable fluffy bunnies and evenutally ran away. Without bear bait it would have happened right under our noses and we might never have known.
I will forever remember the magical formula for removing skunk odor (peroxide, baking soda and dawn dish soap) ever since that quiet twilight morning waiting for the sun to rise when bear bait managed to get into it with a skunk and then get skunked right in the face.
I'll always recall fondly bear bait's last summer, when I decided that swimming was better to walking because of her arthritis. I decided we'd do long distance swims together, so I put on flippers and jumped into the lake with her. We'd swim and swim, and bear bait would swim and drink, so I'd have to swim up to someone's shore everyonce in a while so she could climb out and pee, and sometimes kayakers would glide by and ask with concern if I was swimming all by myelf in the middle of the lake and I'd say "NO! Bear bait is with me!"
And mostly I'll recall how I spent years calling her bear bait, confident that if I ever ran into a bear she'd warn and then protect me by distracting a bear by barking at it. This gave me the courage to be quite adventurous in the wee hours of the morning, trying to photograph sunrises from different locations and forging through unknown woods around the lake. Then that one day a bear finally did show up it was right in our utopian yard and bear bait silently high tailed it into the house while I lingered outside, weeding and wondering why what I thought was bear bait was making such thrashing sounds like never before in the bushes. Then I went inside and found her sacked out on the couch.
But better than the times we spent together are the lessons I learned from her about unconditional love, friendship and a positive attitude. Bear bait loved all people and she only ever asked back to be loved in return. She was always ready for an adventure, loved good food, and even in the end when she was sore and limping, she'd try to do a little happy sprint when she got the open field, because for bear bait life was just that good.